I’ve been feeling rather brave lately and venturing into new foods. Specifically, we’ve been trying different cuts of meat. So far we’ve tried beef heart and quail, and this month, I bought an oxtail!
Also, if you’ve been keeping up with me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In the book, Little House in the Big Woods, Pa roasts a pig and promises the tail to Laura and Mary.
Pa skinned it for them carefully, and into the large end he thrust a sharpened stick. Ma opened the front of the cookstove and raked hot coals out into the iron hearth. Then Laura and Mary took turns holding the pig’s tail over the coals.
It sizzled and fried, and drops of fat dripped off it and blazed on the coals. Ma sprinkled it with salt. Their hands and their faces got very hot, and Laura burned her finger, but she was so excited she did not care. Roasting the pig’s tail was such fun that it was hard to play fair, taking turns.
At last it was done. It was nicely browned all over, and how good it smelled! They carried it into the yard to cool it, and even before it was cool enough they began tasting it and burned their tongues.
They ate every little bit of meat off the bones, and then they gave the bones to Jack. And that was the end of the pig’s tail. There would not be another one till next year.
After reading that, I thought, Well, if they were THAT excited about eating a pig’s tail, there must be SOMETHING to it… But since I don’t like pork, I bought an oxtail!
I decided to make a stew out of it because it’s easy, and it’s that time of year. Plus, the whole concept is that it’s meat around the bone of the tail, so I figured it’d make some pretty rad broth.
Here’s what I did. I pulled myself out of my cozy bed earlier than usual, and instead of making breakfast, I made dinner, and threw all of the following ingredients into my 6 quart slow cooker and turned it on to LOW for 12 hours.
- 1 butternut squash
- 4 turnips
- 1 large onion
- A bunch of carrots in 1 inch slices
- 3 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
- 10 cloves of minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (buy here)
- Pinch of ground cloves (buy here)
- Pinch of dried lavender (buy here)
- Pinch of thyme (buy here)
- Pinch of oregano (buy here)
- Pinch of marjoram (buy here)
- Pinch of fennel seeds (buy here)
- Pinch of basil (buy here)
- Pinch of rosemary (buy here)
- 2 large cassia leaves
- 2 green peppers, 2 red peppers (diced): to add at 11 hours, 1 hour before cooking is over.
Before throwing in the oxtail, I seared it in butter on all sides, till it was nice and brown. Then, I added it to the crock pot, and filled up all the extra space with beef broth.
I added the diced red and green peppers at 11 hours. And after 12 hours total of slow-cooking on low, all the flavors had melded together and meat was falling off the bone. Frank walked in the door after class, sniffed the air, and let out a long, “MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm…”
We each had heaping servings of stew, topped with red potatoes that had been cubed and then fried in butter. It was heavenly. I think I could subsist on the broth alone! The meat was rich and buttery. It was just as good as a fat roast, except more tender.
After we ate, we pulled out the bones. The meat fell right off.
The bones really made the broth. The next day, every bit of the liquid in that stew had turned to gelatin!
The stew lasted us another 3 days, and on the 5th day, I bought another oxtail. ;) I’ll be making this again soon!