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 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