While browsing the meat case at Wheatsville, I happened upon a unique and interesting ingredient. Oxtail. Oxtail?
Thank you Niman Ranch. Traditionally used in soups or stews, this delicious ingredient just screams for a slow-and-low, moist-cooking method. In that spirit, here's my take on a winter feast for two.
Beer Braised Oxtail with Winter Vegetables, Creamy Polenta and Collard Greens
(Recipe serves 2-3)
For the Braise:
1 1/4 lbs. Oxtail
1/2 Leek, sliced
1 Parsnip, peeled and diced
1 Fennel bulb, sliced thick
1 Yellow Onion, sliced thick
2 cloves Garlic, smashed
2 tsp. Tomato Paste
1 Beer, 12 oz. (I used a Shiner Hefeweizen)
2 cups veggie stock
Wash, clean and cut the veggies.
The best way to clean leeks (in my opinion) is to cut them, and then soak in a large bowl of water. The dirt/sand falls to the bottom while the leeks float.
When you're done cleaning/cutting your vegetables you might end up with a pile of trimmings that looks something like this.
Yes, this could be compost fodder, but there's a lot of flavor here, and there's no point in wasting it.
Put the trimmings in a pot, cover with water, and simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Strain and reserve. Voila! Vegetable stock.
Season the oxtail with salt and pepper.
In a hot Dutch Oven (or large Saucepot, etc.), sear the Oxtail on all sides in Canola Oil.
Add the veggies.
Add 1 tsp. of the tomato paste. Stir to coat, and let veggies continue to caramelize.
Deglaze with a little of the beer. (This is a French method called 'pincer' that adds a nice depth of flavor and aids in the caramelization of the vegetables.)
Replace the Oxtail in the pan, pushing them to the bottom.
For the Bouquet:
4 Bay leaves
1 sprig, Rosemary
2 sprigs, Thyme
1/2 tsp. Corriander seed
1/2 tsp. Fennel seed
Wrap in cheesecloth.
Add the Bouquet, garlic, beer and vegetable stock until the Oxtail are about 3/4 covered.
Cover and cook in a 300 F oven for about 3 hours. Keep an eye on the liquid level.
Remove Oxtail, and separate meat from the bones. Reserve.
Strain braising liquid, pass through cheesecloth and reduce in a new pan for your sauce. Season to taste.
Serve Oxtail meat with veggies and the braising liquid sauce.
For the Polenta:
(Recipe serves 6-8)
2 T. Butter
1 1/2 cups Polenta, coarse grind
1 cup Milk
1 cup, White Wine
2 cups, stock
1/2 cup Parmiggiano, grated
In a hot pan, melt butter.
Add Polenta, and toss to coat. Toast Polenta lightly (no color.)
Add liquids, and stir occasionally until desired creamy texture is achieved.
Off the heat, stir in the Parmiggiano.
Season to taste and serve.
For the Greens:
(Recipe serves 3-4)
1 bunch (16 leaves) Collard Greens, cleaned, stems removed, sliced
6 strips, Bacon, cut into strips
2 quarts water/stock/wine
1 cloves Garlic, smashed
1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
Wash the greens thoroughly.
Remove the stems from the greens. I cut a V on each side of the stems.
Stack the greens, and cut into 1/2" strips.
In a sauce pot, simmer (covered) 2 quarts of liquid (water, wine, stock) with the bacon and garlic for about 30 minutes.
Add greens and red pepper flakes, simmer until desired tenderness is reached.
Season to taste.
Remove garlic and strain liquid.