Oxtail Stew

Happy Monday morning, y’all!  I hope you had a nice weekend – we certainly did.   It was a very busy weekend, though; we not only did our usual weekend chores but also cleaned out the cabinets in the master bath.  Apparently just in the nick of time – I’m amazed the people from that hoarders show haven’t been knocking on our door.  I found makeup in there that is older than The Young One and enough, er, feminine products to last me through the remainder of the whole menopause thing.

TMI, I know.  Sorry about that.

At any rate, we spent the majority of the weekend cooking.  Much of it very basic, but very necessary: we not only rendered 5 pounds of lard, but made both chicken and beef stocks.  Beloved, giddy from temperatures in the 40s for the first time in months, dragged the smoker out of the garage and smoked a brisket.

In our driveway.

And Saturday night, I made this wonderful, wonderful stew.

When we purchased our side of beef last June, I asked for all of the “alternate” cuts if the people buying the other half of our cow didn’t want them.  And they didn’t, so I ended up with the marrow bones, tallow, liver, kidneys, heart, tongue – and the tail.  The heart and tongue are still in the freezer (the kidneys went into some dog food for Scooter, and I suspect the heart will as well, although I believe we’re going to have the heart from our next cow mixed into the ground beef); the tail had been languishing away in there as well.  Beloved finally talked me into taking it out and making a stew of it while there was still weather cold enough to warrant such a dish.

I don’t know why I waited so long – this has to be the very best stew I’ve ever eaten.  The long braising of the meat made it so tender it literally melted in the mouth, and the stew was rich and velvety and intensely flavorful.  I can guarantee that I will NOT wait nine months to cook the one from our next side of beef.

Oxtails
Oxtails
Oxtails Seared
Oxtails Seared

Oxtail Mirepoix
Oxtail Mirepoix
Oxtail Braising
Oxtail Braising
Oxtail Stew
Oxtail Stew

Oxtail Stew

serves 6

3 pounds oxtails, separated at the joints
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons beef tallow or other cooking fat
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
2 cups dry red wine
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
2 large parsnips, peeled and cut into large pieces
3 small turnips, peeled and cut into large pieces

Melt the tallow (or other cooking fat) over medium-high heat in a large, heavy Dutch oven – preferably cast iron. Sprinkle the oxtails with salt and pepper; add them to the pot and sear them on all sides, working batches if necessary. Remove them from the Dutch oven to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the diced onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft – about 5 minutes. Place the oxtail back to in pot, along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate, and add the stock, wine, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and a teaspoon of salt (halve the amount of salt if using canned stock).

Cover and simmer for 3 hours, or until the meat is fork tender; uncover for the last half hour if the mixture is still “soupy” to allow the liquid to reduce.

One hour before the oxtail is done, heat the oven to 350 F. Toss the carrots, parsnips and turnips with the olive oil and roast them for 45 minutes to an hour, or until lightly browned and cooked through.

Remove the oxtails from the stew and cut the meat from the bones. Add the meat back to the stew, along with the roasted vegetables, and serve.

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Posted in participation with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday

Swiss Steak

Well, whaddya know – it’s snowing.  Again.  And school’s been canceled.  Again.  Beloved shoveled the driveway twice before we could come into the office this morning, and is now shoveling outside the office door.  Again.

*sigh*

I am convinced this winter is NEVER going to end.

If it ever does, we have another side of grassfed beef on order in March*.  Thank goodness, because it’s getting pretty empty in our freezer – we don’t have much beef left beyond a few pounds of ground beef, a flank steak, a brisket and a couple of roasts.  Earlier this week, I used the last of the round steaks, along with some frozen peppers from the farmer’s market we’d squirreled away last fall, to make this dish.

Swiss steak is named so not because it is from Switzerland, but rather is traditionally prepared by “swissing” fairly tough cuts of meat – pounding it with a meat hammer or by some other means of tenderizing it, before braising or stewing it in tomatoes or tomato sauce, often with mild peppers.  Frankly, I’ve found that braising it will make it tender enough and don’t bother with beating it beforehand, but if you insist on tradition, knock yourself out.  Or buy cube steaks, which have already been tenderized.

*It only took the three of us 9 months to go through an entire side of beef.  I’m not sure if it’s simply because we love it – although we do – or because we find it hard to justify going out to eat when we have a 20 cubic foot standing freezer full of tasty dead animals.

Swiss Steak
Swiss Steak

Swiss Steak

Serves 4 to 6

2 pounds round steak
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons bacon fat (or other cooking fat)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups beef stock
1 cup sliced sweet peppers
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the bacon fat in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, and season the round steak with the salt and pepper. Sear the steak, about 3 minutes on each side; remove to a plate and set aside.

Reduce the heat and sauté the onion and celery until the onion is soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced peppers and garlic and cook for another 2 or three minutes. Return the steak to the skillet along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Stir in the remaining ingredients.

Simmer the steak, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until tender.

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Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

Raspberry-Chipotle Chicken Legs

Oh, look here:  another chicken recipe.  I appear to be on a roll, but don’t worry – my next recipe will include good ol’ beef steak…unless I cook something over the weekend that I just can’t wait to post.

Anyhoo – moving forward.

When I was a kid I was not fond of dark chicken meat at all.  If it wasn’t chicken breast, I wouldn’t eat it.  (That’s really pretty funny when you consider I love beef liver.  It takes all kinds, I guess.)

At any rate, the older I’ve gotten the more I enjoy the darker part of a bird – it’s just so much more moist and flavorful.  Because of that, I have a freezer-full of whole chickens and dark meat chicken parts:  drumsticks, to be exact.  The only problem is coming up with different ways to cook them – after all, plain old roasted chicken, while delicious, can get boring after awhile.

This?  This is a MARVELOUS way to cook them – or any skin-on, bone-in chicken for that matter.  In fact, Beloved and I have decided we’re going to try this on pork loin, too.  The glaze is tangy and spicy and slightly sweet.  I suppose you could use a bottled raspberry-chipotle sauce, but why?  This is fairly easy to make.

Note:  I had some high-quality raspberry preserves in my pantry – just raspberries, sugar and pectin – and I included a tablespoon in the glaze to help balance the flavors and mitigate the tangyness a little.  This is half a “normal” serving of the preserves spread out over 5 servings of the chicken, so I figured the small amount wouldn’t do too much damage.  It certainly seemed better than combining the chipotle with the entire jar of preserves (the most common “recipe” for such a glaze) and spreading it over the chicken.

Raspberry-Chipotle Chicken Legs
Raspberry-Chipotle Chicken Legs

Raspberry-Chipotle Chicken Legs

serves 5

10 chicken drumsticks
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup dry red wine
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1 tablespoon chipotle pepper, minced
1 tablespoon high-quality raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Combine the raspberries, wine, honey, minced chipotle and preserves in a small pot and cook over medium tomedium-high heat until the raspberries have cooked down and the mixture becomes “saucy”, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the orange liqueur.

Cool for about 30 minutes, then place the sauce in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Push the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl and discard the seeds.

Rinse the chicken legs, pat dry and place on a shallow-rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat or nonstick foil. Brush just enough of the sauce on the chicken to coat it on both sides.

Bake the chicken for 45 to 50 minutes, turning and basting with the sauce every 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork. Discard any unused sauce (but there shouldn’t be any left).

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Today Is Brought To You By The Letter “L”

Little boys, little boys – everything around me is…little.

At least at the Cincinnati Children’s Museum, where we spent most of Saturday morning.

Okay – not so little.  But one of my favorite shots of the day.

Of course, we did other things over the weekend…like give him chocolate!

And followed it up, of course, with a little bath time.

The boy LOVES water.