Yesterday I set out to make Osso Bucco, but for some reason I neglected to read the package of meat I took out of the freezer and ended up with beef oxtail instead of veal shanks defrosted and ready to cook. I’d never cooked oxtail but I did Wikipedia the cut :) and they said it’s basically like short ribs, only tastier. So…braising them and adding a gremolata became my mission for the day. This recipe is cooked in the slow cooker, but it isn’t a “dump everything in and turn it on” kind of method. I’m not going to lie, the first steps take about 45 minutes but they make all the difference between this tasting like one big pot of mush (my experience with many slow cooker recipes) and the individual components maintaining their distinct flavors.
Braised Oxtail Stew with Orange-Italian Parsley Gremolata
For Braised Oxtail Stew
6-8 beef oxtails
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cracked black pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 c. fresh flat leaf Italian Parsley, chopped
zest of 1 lemon, large peels done with a vegetable peeler
1 head of garlic, peeled with cloves kept whole
1 bottle good quality red wine, note good does not mean expensive
2 c. beef stock
1 28 oz. tin whole, peeled plum tomatoes
zest of one orange, fine zest using a citrus zester
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. pine nuts
1/4 c. fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 anchovy fillet, mashed (optional)
For Roasted Smashed Potatoes
1- 1/2 lb. small german butter potatoes (or Yukon golds), washed with skin on
3 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the stew:
1) Put the flour on a plate and evenly sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Dredge the oxtail in the flour until evenly coated.
2) In a heavy bottomed pan, pour in olive oil and add butter. Heat on medium high heat until just sizzling and add the dredged meat, in batches so as not to crowd the pan, and leave to brown. Be patient with this step and ensure the meat is caramelized on all sides as this is what prevents your dish from being mush. I even use the pan to support the sides of the meat so that they can be browned as well.
3) While meat is browning, peel and chop onions, carrots, garlic, flat-leaf parsley, and lemon peel.
4) Once meat is browned, add it to a slow cooker set on high and pour in beef stock and using your hands smash up the tinned tomatoes into the mix.
5) Using the pan that you browned the meat in, add the chopped vegetables and take about 15 minutes on med-high heat to brown them as well. Once browned add the red wine (this will deglaze all those yummy brown bits from the bottom of the pan) and bring to a boil then turn down the heat and allow to reduce by half.
6) Pour this mixture into the slow cooker and replace the lid. Allow the cooker to remain on high for one hour, then turn down to low and continue cooking for 6-8 hours.
These next two steps can be done about 40 minutes before serving.
For the Roasted Smashed Potatoes:
1) Wash, poke holes in the skin, and microwave the potatoes on high for 10 minutes. Test to see if cooked, and if not add 2-3 more minutes at a time until done. Then, line a cookie sheet with foil and add the potatoes to the sheet. Using a potato masher, smash the potatoes then drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and roast on 350F for about 30 minutes until tops get a little crispy and brown.
For the Gremolata:
Mix all ingredients in a bowl…that’s it!
To assemble, place the smashed potatoes in the bottom of a soup plate then add an oxtail on top. Ladle some of the sauce into the bowl and top with a spoonful of the gremolata. Serve it up with some hearty bread and this is a delicious winter meal that’s worthy of bragging about! Like I said, it takes some work but the end result was certainly worth it. It’s rich, hardy and satisfying!
From my house and home to you and yours!