Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Bit of Tail


Oxtail is such a wonderful cut of meat! It's a shame that many people overlook this "oddbit." If you're not opposed to a little animal fat in your diet and are comfortable with making slow-cooking dishes like pulled pork, oxtail is a breeze! Beef oxtail is most traditional, but I've also spotted some different animal tails in the ethnic stores around town. To be clear, "ox" in the oxtail sense no longer refers to those tails of castrated cattle... it's just you're regular t-bone-steak cow's tail. It's quite popular in Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine - two cultures which really value their animals from nose to tail. Oxtail responds very well to braising or roasting and it's nearly impossible for your results to be dry or bland. I like cooking with cuts of meat such as this because of three reasons:

1. They are cheap
2. They soak of flavour like a charm
3. People are pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoy the. Hmm, maybe because it's still a part of the cow? Merely 30 inches away from your favourite Sirloin cut...

For this "Salty Oxtail Stew," I roasted the tail chunks in the oven for 40 minutes with no seasoning. I transfered them to a stockpot with carrots, onions, celery, 1 crushed tomato, fennel seeds and a healthy dose of salt. Usually I will season a stock at the end of it's cooking time, but I wanted the seasoning to permeate this long-cooking meat all the way to the bone, vs. just on the outside. I let everything simmer for about 3 hours. I removed the almost cooked tails from the pot, threw them in the oven with more salt to roast again and develop that fatty crust we all love so much. About another 30 minutes. To the stock I added zucchini, peas and some dried red lentils (for my mom, the veggie). Garnish with some chopped, salty olives and a fennel frawn.