Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Kitchenista Diaries: Smothered Oxtails

I've had a pack of oxtails in my freezer for a little while, just waiting for me to find a recipe that would bring out all of their fantastically delicious flavor (they've been waiting a while now).  I had tried fancy recipes that used wine and all sorts of aromatics, but I just wasn't loving them.  So this time I decided to go bare bones, down home, how-does-your-mom-make-it, and it was fantastic.  Best oxtails I've ever made.  Funny how that works.

Smothered Oxtails
Adapted from The Kitchenista Diaries blog

4 pounds oxtail, trimmed of excess hard fat
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, more to taste
½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning, divided use
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 sweet yellow onions, such as Vidalia, Noonday, or Walla Walla, sliced
1 whole head garlic, top sliced off
1 bay leaf
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce

Toss the oxtail pieces in salt and let sit for an hour at room temperature. Combine the flour with one tablespoon of Greek seasoning, and stir to combine.  When ready to cook, pat the oxtail dry and toss in ¼ cup of the seasoned flour. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Brown the oxtail on all sides, taking the time to allow it to get crusty. This will take at least ten minutes, but more if you need to brown the oxtail in batches. Don't crowd the pot, otherwise, they'll just steam.  Control your heat so that the meat browns without the oil burning. If you're done browning your oxtail and the bottom of the pot is blackened, it's better to clean it out before proceeding, or it could impart bitter scorched flavors into the gravy. The goal is to have lots of crusty browned bits in the pan, which is where your flavor starts, so control your heat.

Place the browned oxtail pieces in the bottom of the crock of the slow cooker. Reduce the heat to medium-low. You should have quite a bit of fat left in the pot, but if not add oil or butter to get to about two or three tablespoons. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, then the remaining 1 tablespoon of Greek seasoning, garlic, and bay leaf. Fry the aromatics for a minute, until fragrant. Sprinkle the onions with the remaining seasoned flour, then stir to coat. Cook the roux for a few minutes until bubbly and light brown.

Pour in your chicken and beef stocks, Worcestershire sauce, and browning sauce, scraping up the fond at the bottom of the pan.  Bring the liquid up to a boil. Once the liquid comes to a boil, carefully transfer it to your slow cooker. Cook on high for 6 hours, or on low for 8 to 10 hours, depending on the size of your oxtail pieces. Once the meat is fully tenderized, remove it from the pot. Discard the bay leaves. If you see a ton of oil floating at the top, skim it or drag a piece of bread across to soak it up. Oxtail renders a ton of fat, but the flour helps to keep most of it in the gravy. Squeeze out the garlic and mash it against the side of the pot before whisking into the gravy. If the gravy is too thin, let it cook longer to reduce. If it's too thick, thin it out with water. Give the seasoning a final taste for salt and pepper before returning the oxtail to the pot to warm through.

Makes 4 servings

No comments: