I remember my classmates asking, “What’s for dinner at your house tonight?” I would roll my eyes and moan. ”Steak…..again!” They would just look at each other and shake their heads in envy thinking about the hamburger helper that was certain to be awaiting them at home.
The preparation of my favorite “body part” was when my mother, the master of the pressure cooker, made oxtail stew. She would throw everything in the pot; carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic and herbs and let it blow steam for a couple of hours until we had amazing oxtail stew. Savoring the succulent sections of tail, I loved gnawing on every inch of the bone sucking the juices from it’s pores.
One day, as I was prepping in my restaurant, I daydreamed about this meaty treat. I decided to recreate this culinary delight to run as a special. I headed for the local meat supply store in search of “some tail” and was excited to find a large case of the delicacy, ready for cooking. I carted the 25 pound, cord sealed box back to the restaurant, thinking that if I got it into the oven to braise by noon, surely it would be ready for our opening at 4pm. As I was driving from the meat vendor, I contemplated each individual packaged section of tail and how I would braise them, season them and with what I might accompany them.
Arriving at TUTTI’s kitchen, I ripped open the carton to find the expected oxtail. I was miffed not to find the individually cut and packaged segments, but five whole raw tails; which had to be bent to fit the box. “What do I do with these?” I said aloud to no one but the pale back ends of cows, long gone. I certainly didn’t have the proper tools or time to butcher such things down to the neat little sections that ended up in our kitchen as a child. I couldn’t worry about such things. These were going to take far more than 4 hours to braise, so time was wasting. I grabbed a large rondeuax and proceeded to sear the grotesque tails. I threw in all the appropriate ingredients, got it to where it needed to be and after covering it, I put it in the convection oven at 300 degrees. I prepped all the ingredients for the accompaniments and all that was left to do was wait. It was noon, maybe they would be ready to be served by 5.
I checked the tails at 4, still hard, needed more liquid. I added veal stock. Checked them at 5, still not done. I informed the staff that the special was still some time out. At 7:30 pm, I did one last check, the aromas were fantastic and the meat was tender. I pulled it from the oven, l removed the fat from the meat and the meat from the bone. It was 8pm and now the special was finally ready!
Our last dinner guests were excited and we sold 6 specials in an hour. Well worth the wait. I served it with mushroom risotto and sautéed arugula topped with fried shallots. Delightful! Mama would be proud.
8 cups chicken stock
3Tbls olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb fresh Portobello and crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbls fresh thyme, chopped
2 Tbls fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tbls butter
Salt and pepper
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups carnoroli rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, herbs and butter. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Add the dried porcini mushrooms which were reconstituted in1 cup of warm chicken broth (grit removed). Season again with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sauté 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.
Coat a saucepan with remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute. This step cooks the starchy coating and prevents the grains from sticking. Stir in wine and cook until it is nearly all evaporated.
Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to cook and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more.
The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy. Transfer the mushrooms to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted.
12 lbs oxtail
8 cloves garlic
1 red onion diced
4 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs
3 sprigs oregano
750 ml red wine
2 cups veal or beef stock (1-2 cups more during cooking)
Salt and pepper
4 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
Preheat oven to 300. In a very large skillet, heat oil over medium heatl Pat oxtail dry with clean cloth, dust with salt and pepper. Sear until golden brown, remove from pan. Add thyme, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, chili, onions cook until tender. Deglaze with red wine, add oxtail, then add stock. Cover and cook until tender and coming off bone. Make sure they are always covered with liquid, add more stock as needed. May take up to 5 hours depending on size of tail. Remove at from meat then meat from bone. Strain juice, remove fat from top and reduce down to rich consistency. Add back to meat, serve.