This was definitely a labor of love. Believe the instructions when is says cooking oxtail is a two day process, but oh my goodness, what a treat!
Oxtail is a bit of a misnomer. It is actually a tail of a cow, and requires quite a bit of cooking to make it tender, and to remove some of the fat. There really is no shortcut for this, I tried just leaving it in the refrigerator for a few hours, but the fat did not become solid enough to remove. This particular recipe I created really intensified the flavors from the long cooking process, and serving it over polenta was the perfect complement.
Braised Oxtails over Polenta
2 pounds oxtails, cut up
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1 bottle good quality red wine
2 cups beef, veal or pork stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over high heat. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the oxtails, and brown in the olive oil. Remove from pan. Lower heat, and saute onions, celery and carrots until tender, and remove from pan. Add red wine to the dutch oven, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer and reduce down until one cup remains. Return oxtails to the dutch oven, add stock, thyme and add additional water just until meat is covered. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours, adding the vegetables back in for the last half hour. You can also do this in a 350* oven for three hours if it is easier.
Remove the oxtail from the oven, let it cool, then refrigerate overnight. A layer of fat will rise to the top, you will want to remove this before you continue to the next step.
The next day, remove the fat layer from the top of the oxtail braise, and place the mixture in a crockpot. Heat on low for 4-6 hours. Remove the oxtails from the braising mixture, and remove the meat from the bones. Stir the meat back into the crockpot. Serve over polenta, potatoes, noodles or rice.
Now, the polenta ! I asked my fellow food bloggers for a different polenta recipes, and this one comes from Stephanie Meyer, and appeared in the Minnesota Monthly magazine. I changed it a bit, substituting chicken stock instead of water, but it was the perfect accompaniment to this rich oxtail dish.
5 cups chicken stock (if you use water, add 2 teaspoons salt)
1 cup coarsely ground corn meal
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup parmesano reggiano cheese (plus more for topping)
In a large pan, combine chicken stock and corn meal. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to avoid lumps. If the mixture becomes too thick, add additional water. Once cooking is complete, add butter and cheese. Top with additional cheese.