Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oxtail Stew: Comfort Food That Keeps You Warm

Ah. Been busy. Been sick. Had some fun in between.

This just means all the posts I've been meaning to write has been snowballing and I better tackle some before it drives me crazy in the back of my mind!

Oxtail Stew is one of my favorite comfort foods especially for the Fall and Winter seasons and I love to cook it for Sunday dinner when I have a couple of hours at home. My Uncle Ricky has taught me many important carnivore dishes over the years and he initially taught this to me as a Beef Short Rib stew so feel free to use short ribs if oxtail is not your thing. Both have become my favorites for Sunday dinners.

The first time my uncle showed me how to cook this, I was amazed that he was just eyeballing stuff and throwing them into the pot. After having made this many times, my "recipe" is not really exact because I eyeball everything now too. But that's okay. That's why sometimes cooking is more relaxing than baking because it doesn't always have to be exact.

Shop for your ingredients and have them handy on your kitchen counter.

Mix flour, kosher salt and black pepper in a large bowl and set aside. Or, use a large rubbermaid with a lid (useful later).

Rinse oxtails and pat dry with paper towels.

Use kitchen scissors to snip away excess fat and tough sinewy parts and discard.

Toss the oxtail in the flour mixture. I like using a large rubbermaid container and I just put the oxtail in in batches and put the lid on and shake - the oxtail comes out evenly coated every time.

Heat a large pot (or use a separate pan) and add canola oil. Sear the oxtail on all sides. Try not to crowd the oxtial because it won't sear properly. Sear in batches if necessary.

When it's pretty much seared, add diced onions if you like onions melted into the sauce of your stew. Or, you can save the onions to add last. I tend to do both.

Add chicken stock, stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a medium boil and turn the fire on low and simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours total. Don't put a tight lid on the pot. Either tilt the lid to let out steam or use a lid that has a small hole for ventilation.

At the1.5 hour mark, add the cut carrots. After 15 minutes, add the cut potatoes and stew for 30 more minutes. Carrots and potatoes should have been peeled and cut (about 1 to 2 inch pieces) beforehand. Tip: If you can, get fresh carrots (with the greens still attached) at the Farmers Market - the sweet carrot flavor will really come through.

Check for doneness by inserting a fork into the oxtail; the meat should separate pretty easily. At that point, you can add mushrooms and sliced onions if you like - I did both here.

Stew for 15 more minutes after adding mushrooms and your stew should look like this. Do a quick taste test; add more kosher salt if you think the taste needs to be adjusted.

There you have it. Carbs, Protein and Veggies all in one pot :)

Oh, of course don't forget to plate it with a nice plate of steamed rice. Rice or a thick, crusty French bread is the perfect side dish pair with a stew because it'll soak up all the delicious, rich sauce. I cheat; I'm Chinese so I have two main entrees - rice and stew!

Shopping List for Oxtail Stew
(remember, measurements aren't exact but it's okay...it's cooking so eyeball it!)
  • 1 Oxtail - about 3-4 lbs (Western markets will have it all cut up already; Chinese markets tend to have the whole tale at the meat counter so make sure you ask the butcher to cut it - you cannot do it at home!)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tablespoon kosher salt (have extra to salt stew later if necessary)
  • 0.5 tablespoon black pepper (fresh ground if possible)
  • 2 cans Stewed Tomatoes (I like Del Monte Original Recipe)
  • 3 - 4 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 box/8 oz of crimini mushrooms (or any sturdy mushroom that'll be good at soaking up the sauce)
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium brown onion
  • 0.5 to 1 lb of carrots
  • 1 - 2 tablespoon Canola oil - to coat pot/pan


Anonymous said...

This is nice. I'd add garlic. Maybe thyme or bay leaf. Maybe even dumplings.

Hungry Kat said...

Ah, thanks for the reminder. I actually did use 6 whole cloves of garlic. I tossed them into the stew when I added the stewed tomatoes and stock.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this recipe. I looked everywhere on the internet for a good Chinese oxtail recipe that resembled the dish from Hong Kong cafes and this was the closest in look and taste!

I added the garlic, omitted the potato and mushrooms based on preference and used less water because I wanted to use it as a gravy for rice and it turned out perfect! The Del Monte original receipt stewed tomatoes is the key in giving this dish the unique flavor. This recipe is going to be one of our family favorites now! Thanks again!

Sissibug said...

Going back a while, to your oxtail stew : ) I can't help but note that if you add some vinegar to the water, remove the meat when tender, put the bones and cartilage back in and cook longer ... until the bones are soft and cartilage is gelatinous.... WOW! what flavor!~ =)