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BRAISED OXTAIL

22 Nov

As someone who just wants a plain, unaltered cut of meat to prepare, I grow tired of seeing so much fridge space in “boutique” butcher shops being taken up by kebobs and steaks coated in gloppy marinades. I understand that many folks don’t want to fuss with their own seasoning, but for the rest of us, it usually means fewer options and hopeless predictability.

My go-to butcher, St. Lawrence Market’s Uppercut Meats, was kind enough to give me a (very) generous 4 kilo heap of oxtails last week.  Uppercuts Meats has the best people running the show.  They are reliable, high quality, traditional, no-nonsense butchers.  P.’s been a loyal customer for 7 years now and I’ve recently joined the bandwagon.  They really do make you feel like family there and your specific cut is always accommodated.  Say you need the skin perfectly reserved for that perfect porchetta crackling…or the perfect thickness for a stuffed grilled bourbon veal, they ask you to walk around from the front counter to stand by the massive central butcher block and talk them through it, just to make sure that you have the cut, just the way you like it.  That’s service!  These people are the consummate professionals.  Look for Rita with the pink hat.  She’s awesome and very patient with my “special” cut requests.

Cooking with oxtail is very common within Asian cuisines and with the meat to bone ratio and all the skin, gristle and fat that comes along with ox tail, it is only made edible through incredibly long cooking.  The end result is worth the wait, I promise.  It’s hard to believe that oxtail was considered pauper food when it’s hard to find a kilo for anything under $10!  Oxtail is country fare, and as such, is just one of the many foods that I was brought up on through my mother’s loving hands.

People who say that cooking oxtail is difficult aren’t far off the mark.  Personally, I think that what it comes down to is the fact that you can’t rush cooking especially when it comes to special ingredients.  Period.

UPPERCUT OXTAIL

Ingredients: For 5-6 people

4kg oxtail (approx. 4 tails) *ask the butcher to cut up the joints for you. This is the common cut for oxtail and it’s most likely already cut this way already.

1 ½ cups Cooking Soy Sauce (Light Soy is fine)

½ cup of Malt Syrup

1 large onion

2 Asian Pears or Bartlett Pears

2 Fiji Apples

1 medium-size Daikon (Chinese radish)

2 tablespoons Sesame oil

1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper

4 cups of water

4 medium-size carrots

2 large onions

4 potatoes

 Procedures:

1.) Trim any fat, as desired, from the outside of each joint.  Don’t worry about the tendons, the slow braise will disintegrate these during the cooking process.  Once trimmed, soak in cold water for an hour.  This removes most of the blood from the meat.  As you’ll see, the water will turn very bloody after a while.  Also, the soaking will get rid of the meaty smell.

 2.) After soaking for an hour, drain.  Then bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the tail joints, boil for 10 minutes.  Drain for 30 minutes.  This parboiling process also removes the smaller pieces of fat and gristle.

 3.) While the joints are draining, prepare your marinade.  Pour soy sauce, malt syrup, sesame oil and ground pepper into a medium-sized pot.  Use a food blender to pulse the pears to a pulp.  This will take a minute or two on the purée setting.  Add the pulped pears into the pot of soy sauce mix.

 

 

4.) Next, cut and purée the apple, onion and daikon in the same way as the pear.  Do not add this directly to the pot.  You must put it through a fine metal sieve and collect only the liquid.  Add only the liquid from the pulped apple, onion and pear to the soy sauce mix.  Bring to a low simmer until malt syrup is dissolved completely.  Set aside the marinade to cool.

 

 5.) While the marinade is cooling, peel and cut the carrots and potatoes into roughly even pieces.

 

 

 

 

6.) Once marinade has cooled down, add to a large pot (essentially the one you will be cooking the ox tail in) with the joints and leave to marinate for 30 minutes to I hour.  The longer it marinates, the better, of course!  Then add the water, put the lid on and bring to a boil.  Once brought to a boil, bring the temperature down to the lowest simmer possible for one hour (lid on).  Turn every 20 minutes to ensure the marinade takes evenly to the meat.

 7.) Add veggies and stir through.  Continue to braise at very low heat for another hour.

 This marinade also goes well with beef short ribs, cooked the very same way.  It can be refrigerated in a tight-lid container for 2 days.  It’s a good way to cut down on prep time!  Enjoy!

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