I had three precious packages of oxtails that I had been meaning to turn into an Indonesian “Sop Buntot” or oxtail soup, but weeks had passed and I never got around to it. So yesterday I decided to try out a new recipe, which is nothing more than an oxtail stew really, de-boned, and turned into a pasta sauce. It turned out beautifully for relatively little effort (except for the de-boning which fortunately, I didn’t have to do myself).
First take several kilos (I think I used some 3-3.5 kilos) worth of oxtails and place them in pre-heated pans in a highly pre-heated 450F oven. Toss them in some olive oil and salt and pepper first before tossing them onto the pre-heated pans. You can brown them in a pan on the stove-top as well, but the oven just seemed so much easier, since I needed the oven later in the process anyway. It will take some 25-30 minutes to brown the oxtails nicely (which I was just shy of in the photos here) and remove some of the excess fat. Please don’t ask me what’s wrong with my camera, it’s a sore point, and I think it’s refusing to focus properly and could be the third or fourth casualty of the over 220,000 photos taken for this blog over the past 12+ years…
While you are browning the oxtails, into a large enameled pot, add some olive oil, chopped garlic, chopped leeks, whole small shallots, celery, carrots and salt and pepper and let this saute for about 10-15 minutes until softened nicely. Deglaze the pan with a cup or so of red wine and add in the browned oxtails, salt and pepper, some fresh rosemary, thyme and bay leaves if you have them in the yard (or dried if not). You can also add some ground cloves but it’s optional.
Add two tins of chopped or whole tomatoes, two tins of (or homemade if you have it) of beef broth, a tin of water to just about cover the oxtails and other goodies. Cover this, bring to a boil and then place in a 320F oven for some 4+ hours until the meat is so tender it’s just easy to take it off the bone.
Discard all the bones and return everything to the pot and adjust your seasoning. At this point, it looked like I had too much meat and too little sauce, so you may want to opt to add three tins of tomatoes instead (I am a saucy type). If you like some heat, you can add some dried chili flakes and bring this back to simmering temperature.
Serve with polenta or do as we did, over fettuccine noodles and sprinkled with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese. It was delicious. Rich, unctuous, comforting, familiar but special all at the same time. I can see using the leftovers (there are a LOT!) for very chi-chi sloppy Guiseppe (hahaha) or even with some good old steamed rice. Overall, this required relatively little effort and it was the perfect Sunday afternoon to cook and I even managed to fit in a two-hour massage while the dish was in the oven! :)