French Onion Oxtail Stew

This is one of those rare dishes that I liked a WHOLE bunch, but Beloved was kind of lukewarm about… although the fact he’s been fighting off a low-grade stomach virus for the last few days may have something to do with that.

But whether or not he cared that much for it, I am here to tell you that ohmygawd, this is really, really, really good.  It is rich.  It is decadent.  It is intensely flavorful and simply delicious.

Yes, it takes time – you start by browning the oxtails on the stove, then transfer them to a slow cooker, then slowly caramelize the onions (which took about 2 hours in my case) before transferring the contents of the slow cooker to the pan with the caramelized onions and cooking it all a little bit more.  But it is completely worth it.

At least, I think so.

Since the recipe is based on French onion soup, there’s a lot of onions in it – 6 large ones, which gives you about 12 to 14 cups of sliced onions, so use your mandoline if you have one.  A wide, heavy pan is best for caramelizing them; they’ll cook down quite a bit, but you’ll need the space in the beginning as well as the end, when you add the oxtail and liquid from the slow cooker to it.

By the time the dish is complete, it should be more the consistency of a stew than a soup – I guess if you really want soup, you can add more beef stock.  Made as written, though, this is just wonderful over potatoes or cauliflower mashed with chives and Gruyere cheese.

Yum, yum, YUM.

Note:  If you use olive oil instead of butter, the recipe, as written, is dairy-free.

French Onion Oxtail Stew. Rich and decadent, this play on French onion soup and oxtail stew is just perfect on a cold, dreary evening.

Click the image to enlarge

French Onion Oxtail Stew
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 oxtail, separated at the joints
  • 2 tablespoons tallow or other cooking fat
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 sprigs thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
  • 1 cup hearty red wine
  • 6 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 6 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. In a heavy pan or skillet, heat the tallow over high heat. Season the oxtail liberally with salt and pepper; place in the hot fat and cook until the meat is well-browned on all sides. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic; continue cooking for another minute or so or until the garlic turns golden and fragrant.
  2. Transfer the oxtail (and garlic) to a slow cooker. Add the wine, stock and thyme. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  3. Before the oxtail is ready, melt the butter in a large, wide skillet or pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are caramelized – they will be a deep golden color. (This step could take as little as 40 minutes or as long as 2 hours.)
  4. Once the oxtail is done, remove it from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate; shred the meat away from the bones with a fork. Skim the fat from the liquid in the slow cooker, if desired, and transfer the contents along with the meat from the oxtail to the pan with the onions.
  5. Cook the stew over medium heat for about half an hour. Remove the thyme stems and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over Gruyere-mashed potatoes or cauliflower.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 437 calories, 27.5g total fat, 78.6mg cholesterol, 529.1mg sodium, 951.1mg potassium, 19.2g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, 7.7g sugar, 22.3g protein

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Last week I asked my Facebook readers if anyone was interested in a slow-cooker pot roast recipe (since my Facebook status’ are automatically published to my Twitter feed, my readers there were asked, too).  The response was an overwhelming “Yes!” on all fronts.

I love a good quality piece of meat roasted in the oven, but there’s a great deal to be said for braising an inexpensive cut of beef in the slow cooker.  For one thing, it’s relatively cheap; for another, it’s drop dead easy.  Season the roast, add whatever aromatics/vegetables you want, add some sort of liquid, turn on the cooker and walk away for 8 hours.  A quick side dish or two later, and you’ve got dinner on the table with very little effort.

And it will be unbelievably tender and delicious…without any powdered soup packets.

This is a very basic recipe.  You can dress it up all you like – add vegetables, different seasonings, whatever you want.  Remember that you need a more inexpensive cut from the shoulder/arm of the animal – a boneless chuck or arm roast, or a blade roast.  These are the tougher, but more flavorful, cuts that do very well with long, slow cooking.  Depending on the cut, it will come out of the slow cooker fall-apart tender and may be hard to slice, but hey – that’s not necessarily a bad thing, now is it?

You can serve it as is, or get fancy and make a gravy or wine-based pan reduction out of the cooking liquid, which is just fantastic.  But if you’re of the “pot roast and ketchup” school – not that I’d know anything about that (ahem) – this is perfect with a generous serving of homemade ketchup.  Yum.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 pound beef arm or chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
Instructions
  1. Pat the roast dry with a paper towel and rub on all sides with the salt, pepper and basil. Place the roast in the slow cooker, and spread the onion and garlic over the top of the roast.
  2. Pour the beef stock around, not over, the roast and add the bay leaves.
  3. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours, or until very tender. Remove the bay leaves, slice and serve with the jus from the crock,if desired.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 234 calories, 10.3g total fat, 101.3mg cholesterol, 758.2mg sodium, 674mg potassium, 2.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 33.1g protein

Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches

Two more days! Two more days!!  Methinks it is positively indecent, how much I’m looking forward to the end of the Whole30, but I’m proud that I did it.  I got a question on yesterday’s post about whether I’d re-introduce foods one at a time, as suggested by the folks over at Whole9, and blog about the results.

Yes, indeed.  I can already tell you one food that will most likely disappear from my diet all together, except in instances when I simply can’t avoid it (like when we eat out):  dairy.  Yes, even goat and sheep, but I’ll go into that after it’s all over and I report on the results of the Whole30.  That will probably be next Tuesday, since I’m going to be extremely busy, then on my way to Columbus, on Friday.  We’re also taking Monday off for the Labor Day holiday.

At any rate, here’s yet another pork with peaches recipe.  What can I say – we’re just about out of beef (we have another side coming in a week or two), and I’m drowning in peaches.  But that’s okay, because pork pairs so well with fruit, and while this may not be the prettiest dish I’ve ever made, it certainly was one of the most delicious.

Normally, I’d have prepared a barbecue sauce to go with the pulled pork (mmmmm, peach barbecue sauce…) but, as a native Texan, I prefer my BBQ sauce both sweet and tangy, as opposed to Memphis-style barbecue sauces which tend to be just tangy, or Kansas City barbecue sauces, which tend to be just sweet.  But since sugar of any sort is verboten during Whole30, I decided ripe, juicy peaches (which are both sweet and tangy) would fit the bill just fine.

It is easy, too – the pork shoulder simply goes into the slow cooker with some salt, pepper, onion and garlic.  The most difficult part of the recipe is peeling the peaches, which really isn’t hard at all.  (You can leave the skins on, but I prefer cooked peaches without them.)  Using freestone peaches will make pitting and slicing them much less difficult.

The dish was a huge hit in our house – Beloved and I quibbled over leftovers the next day (we’d have had more leftovers, eliminating the need to quibble over them, but we live with a 17-year-old bottomless pit – need I say more?).

Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches
Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches
Pulled Pork with Balsamic-Glazed Peaches
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds pork shoulder or picnic roast
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 large peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into eighths
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Place the pork shoulder in a slow cooker just large enough to hold it comfortably; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread the minced garlic over the top of the shoulder, then scatter the onions over the surface. Pour the chicken stock around, not over, the pork; cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  3. Carefully remove the pork from the slow cooker to a large cutting board. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pieces of onion from the pot and add to the shoulder. Pull the pork apart using two forks, working the onion and liquid from the crock, if needed to keep the meat moist, until completely shredded. Move the pork to a bowl or other suitable container; cover and keep warm.
  4. In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt the ghee over medium high heat. Arrange the peach slices in the skillet and cook until they begin to brown and release their juices. Turn the peach slices once; cook briefly and remove to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium and add the balsamic vinegar to the skillet and stir until a sauce is formed. Return the peaches to the pan and gently toss to coat with the balsamic glaze.
  5. Divide the pork between 8 plates and top with the peaches and sauce.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 373 calories, 23g total fat, 110.2mg cholesterol, 148.2mg sodium, 717.3mg potassium, 9g carbohydrates, 1.2g fiber, 6.5g sugar, 31.2g protein

 

Birria

We.  Are.  So.  BUSY.

To illustrate, we now have 30 pints of green beans, 30 pints of chicken stock, 15 pints of bread and butter pickles and 15 pints of garlic dill pickles in our basement.  Another 30 pints of green beans will follow, along with beef stock, pickled beets, pumpkin, butternut squash, tomato sauce, ketchup and barbecue sauce.  We’ll also vacuum pack and freeze as many other fruits and vegetables as we can get our hands on before the season is over.

It’s all great fun, to say nothing of gratifying, but we’re pooped.

Yesterday was Day 6 of the Whole30 – I ate breakfast!!  Beloved told me the other day, “You’re sure making this sound like a diet, skipping breakfast all the time…”  What can I say?  I’m rarely hungry in the morning.  However, you tend to eat when your husband shoves a plate of food in front of you, so breakfast was 2 eggs scrambled in coconut oil, one of the little zucchini fritters leftover from Sunday and about half a cup of cubed cantaloupe.

When we got home for lunch yesterday, we realized we had no leftovers so we quickly thawed some locally-caught fish we had lurking in the freezer – mostly perch, with a couple of small pieces of bass.  I gave it an egg wash, then dredged it in a combination of almond and tapioca flour seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne, and pan-fried it in a little non-hydrogenated palm oil shortening.  We ate it with some spicy mayo (homemade mayo mixed with just a touch of hot sauce and apple cider vinegar), pan-roasted Japanese sweet potatoes, sliced tomato and fresh watermelon.

After work, we ran The Young One to his new driver’s ed class (my wallet is shuddering at the very thought), then we ran out to the local community pool and swam laps for about 20 minutes.  At home, we canned the 15 jars of garlic dill pickles and had this for dinner (thank goodness I’d had the foresight to think of the crock pot in the morning before we went to work).

Birria is a spicy Mexican meat stew usually made with goat meat and often served at special occasions, such as Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day, and birthday partys.  Originally from Jalisco, it is one of those dishes that differs from region to region, and even cook to cook.  It is traditionally served with corn tortillas, which I – naturally – skipped, and instead opted for avocado and diced tomatoes.

Was it good?  Well, Beloved went back for seconds, and the only reason he didn’t eat another serving is because we ran out of avocado.

Yup.  It was good.  (Don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients, because it was dead simple, too.)

Note:  This is almost the last of Pete the Goat; we only have a couple of chops and one rack of him left.  If you’re not fortunate to have two small legs of goat (we’d already eaten his shanks) in your freezer, a 3 pound pork roast or 3 pounds of skinless, bone-in chicken thighs would work just as well (lamb is also common in authentic birria).  I also realize that not everyone can be at home halfway through the cooking time to add the kale, so if you have to, add it at the beginning.  It’s a pretty hearty green and should hold up well to the long cooking, but since that’s not what I did, I can make no promise about the outcome.

Birria
Birria
Birria
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds goat leg, with bone
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers seeded and minced
  • 6 cups kale, stems removed and torn into pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large avocado, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the kale, avocado and diced tomato in a large crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir the kale into the stew, cover again and cook for an additional 4 hours.
  2. Remove the leg bone(s) from the stew, and using two forks, shred the meat; stir to combine. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
  3. Divide between six bowls; top with sliced avocado and diced tomatoes and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 400 calories, 11.7g total fat, 131.7mg cholesterol, 673.8mg sodium, 1713.4mg potassium, 21g carbohydrates, 5.9g fiber, 5.6g sugar, 53.2g protein

 

Almost Osso Bucco

Oh, Make Ahead Mondays, how I love you.

According to Wikipedia, Ossobuco is Italian for “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the center of the cross-cut veal shank.  Accordingly, the dish osso bucco is traditionally (and deliciously) made with veal shanks, which are often hard to come by and are pretty expensive when you can find them.  The shanks are then braised, usually in the oven, in a mixture of wine, stock and vegetables, and is traditionally served with risotto alla milanese.

I love osso bucco – it’s one of the few Italian dishes you can find in restaurants (when you can find it in restaurants) that isn’t smothered in some sort of tomato sauce and buried in pasta.  It is a rich, simple dish that is, when you come right down to it, delicious peasant food.  Unfortunately, as I noted, veal shanks are not readily available, but beef shanks are fairly easy to obtain – at least in my freezer, where I have no less than two at any given moment.

It was the last two from our former side of beef that I used for this recipe, which lent itself quite well to the slow cooker.  And it really couldn’t be easier – brown the beef, throw all of the ingredients in the crock pot, set it on low for eight hours and walk away until it’s done.  It’s really worth the trouble of getting up 15 minutes or so early on a weekday morning to brown the meat and assemble the dish – when you get home in the evening, all you have to do is make your side dish (we served it over a puree of roasted parsnips – perfection!), remove the bones and chop the meat.

Most osso bucco recipes call for dredging the meat in flour before browning, which I’ve skipped here.  If you want to thicken it with a slurry of a little water mixed with tapioca or arrowroot flour at the end, feel free to although I added beef rib and marrow bones for added richness.  If you don’t have them, don’t worry about – it will be fine with just the shanks.

It won’t be the prettiest dinner you’ve ever served, but it will be one of the easiest, to say nothing of one of the most delicious.  It is also one of those dishes that is even tastier the next day, so eat those leftovers!

Almost Osso Bucco
Almost Osso Bucco
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 3 pounds beef shanks
  • 4 beef ribs
  • 2 small marrow bones
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tallow
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 slices bacon, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
Instructions
  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Working is batches, brown the beef in the tallow until the meat is nicely browned.
  2. Add the beef and marrow bones to the crock of a slow cooker and cover with the vegetables. Carefully pour the wine, beef stock and tomato sauce around, not over, the beef and vegetables. Cook on low for eight hours or until tender.
  3. Remove the bones from the stew and cut the beef into bite size pieces. Serve over mashed potatoes or parsnips.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 504 calories, 28.7g total fat, 91.3mg cholesterol, 600mg sodium, 1131.1mg potassium, 8.5g carbohydrates, 1.9g fiber, 4.8g sugar, 45.6g protein.

 

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