So one of my life goals on the list I’ve recently assembled is to eat more weird food that I’ve never had before, and that most people would say OH HELL NO to trying. Yes, it might seem strange to some (most) people that food would feature heavily on a life list, but it does on mine.
I went to the store the other day and was wandering through the meat section, looking for inspiration, when there, right before my eyes, were packages of oxtail. I swear I could hear the angelic choir burst into song. I grabbed two packages and went happily home, knowing that I could have a lot of fun with them.
Most oxtail you see today is actually cow tail. What this translates to is a round piece of bone encircled in heavily muscled and marbled meat. Think of it as a round version of a short rib. Because of all of the muscle, oxtail benefits from low and slow cooking, at which point it becomes the most tender and succulent thing imaginable. Swoon.
As I looked up recipes, most of them were very Italian inspired (tomatoes, white whine, herbs), and that just not what I was wanting. I wanted the oxtail to be THE thing that the dish was about. When I saw this recipe, I knew that I had struck gold. Not only was it Asian inspired, which we love, but we also happened to have just about everything on the ingredient list on hand.
This seriously is probably one of the best thing I’ve ever made. No joke.
Please make it. Broaden your horizons. Freak people out with it.
Copied and modified from this recipe
Asian Braised Oxtail
- 2 to 3 pounds oxtails, fat trimmed
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (I used sherry)
- 2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken stock
- 1/3 cup dark or regular soy sauce
- 1½ tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 star anise, broken into pieces
- 2 whole cloves (I only had ground, so I threw in a pinch of that)
- 4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and bruised (all I had was the tubed kind. Worked just fine)
- 6 slices fresh ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3-4 Thai chili peppers, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
- 1 lime, zested and cut into small wedges
Cooked jasmine rice, for serving.
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Season oxtails with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding, brown oxtail all over, removing each piece when done. Add oil as needed.
When done browning, pour off extra fat from bottom of empty pot and set pot over high heat. Add wine and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits. In a bowl, mix soy sauce and sugar with 2 cups stock and pour into pot. Add lemongrass, chili peppers, star anise, cloves, ginger and garlic and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Return oxtails to pot and add lime zest. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook 1½ hours.
Turn over pieces of oxtail, cover again and cook 1½ hours more, or until oxtail is very tender. Remove oxtails from pot and strain sauce into a separate saucepan; discard contents of strainer. Transfer oxtail pieces back to ovenproof pot. Either let the sauce sit long enough to seperate the fat, or cover oxtails and sauce and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, heat oven to 300 degrees; remove oxtails and sauce from refrigerator. Lift off any fat on surface of sauce and discard. Gently warm sauce until liquid, then pour over oxtails. Cover with foil or a lid and bake 30 minutes.
Uncover, stir and raise oven temperature to 400 degrees. Cook, uncovered, 15 minutes. Stir again and cook another 15 minutes, until hot and glazed thickly with sauce. Remove oxtails from oven and serve over rice. Squeeze lime juice over oxtails.
Now I want to go make them again.