Monday, February 12, 2007

Oxtail Two Ways

I first had oxtail soup in Denmark, when I was a kid. It is especially memorable for me because I ate it in a pagoda at Tivoli Gardens.

Oxtails should be cheap, and used to be, but are now quite expensive. I won't even tell you what you have to pay for kosher ones, if you can find them. The good news is that you only need about a half pound for a big ol' pot of tasty soup.

I'm going to give two recipes for variations on this wonderful soup. The first is my take on a traditional oxtail soup with red wine. The second is perfect for Lunar New Year or just a good Chinese chowdown. Both look like they have a lot of ingredients, but feel free to adapt them to what you have at home or what you like to eat. Each of these should be good for 6-8 servings of soup. Both freeze well. Add the noodles later if you are going to freeze the high protein East Meets West soup.

1.Traditional Oxtail Soup

1/2 lb oxtails
1 chopped onion
2 chopped carrots
2 stalks chopped celery
1 peeled turnip, chopped (optional)
olive oil
2 bay leaves
1 big can pureed tomatoes or 1 box pomi tomatoes
1 cup of wine, like a sirah (if desired)

Get your butcher to cut the oxtails into 2" pieces and trim the excess fat from the tails. Heat the olive oil - some use butter, but I don't - and sauté the onions and garlic in the oil. When translucent, add the celery and carrots and parsely. Place the oxtails carefully in the oil and vegetable mixture and let brown evenly (this is what gives your soup a good color). Salt and pepper to taste and add a bit of thyme - about 1/4 tsp dry or to taste. Add water to cover and simmer for 1.5 hours. Yes, you could do this in a crock pot. Remove from the fire, strain and put the stock into the cold so that you can remove the fat more easily. If you want, you can stop at this point and come back to the soup later.

Remove the meat from the bones and return it to the stock. If you don't mind picking bones out of your soup spoon, you can also just cook the soup until the meat falls of the bones. Bring to a simmer and add the tomatoes and wine. Adjust seasonings. If you like you can add more vegetables, barley or another grain, but it is delicious without any of these.

2. East Meets West Oxtail Soup

1/2 lb oxtails
1 chopped onion
2 chopped carrots
2 small pieces celery root (celeriac)
2 pieces bok choy
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 pkg. shirataki (soy) or gan si noodles (optional)
peanut oil
dark soy sauce
vinegar (chinkiang is best, but rice will work)
5 spice powder
1/2 c. sherry (if desired; Chinese is best)

Sauté 1 carrot, celery root, garlic, ginger, salt in a small amount of peanut oil. Add 2" pieces of oxtail and brown on all sides. Reduce heat add a good splash of dark soy sauce, vinegar and about a tsp of 5 spice powder. Cook for about 1.5 or until meat is read to fall of of the oxtails. Strain soup, remove meat and let stock cool. Defat.

Reheat the stock, add sliced bok choy, carrot. Let simmer until vegetables are soft and add noodles. If you like, add 1/2 cup of Chinese sherry (or regular sweet sherry) to the soup.
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Colleen said...

when i lived in jamaica, oxtail was my favorite thing to eat (aside from curry goat). i'm going to try your soup recipe

*S* said...

Cool! Let me know how it turns out for you please.

Lara said...

I've never tasted oxtail... but where do you buy it?