Have you ever cooked oxtail before?
Until mid-November, I hadn't. I had eaten it before (for example during our trip to Spain last March-April), but never actually handled uncooked oxtail in my kitchen. Then, back in November, we had a Offal and Alternative Cuts Cook-Off on my Estonian site, and upon K's insistence, I decided to make an oxtail stew. If you get hold of good-quality oxtail (e.g. with lots of juicy soft meat attached), then there's not much you need to do with your oxtail. Basically, I had to decide whether I want to braise mine in beer or wine (I chose dark beer, Saku Jõulupruul) and which vegetables to go for (carrots, celery and turnips were my choice). Once you've made those decisions, you're well on your way to a beautiful dinner with friends.
PS I will be eating some again tonight. K. has just informed us that our friends P&K have invited us for a dinner of oxtail tonight. Mmmmm... :P
Oxtail braised in beer
(Õlles hautatud härjasaba)
Serves 2-3 (generously)
1 kg oxtail, cut into chunks
1 to 2 Tbsp oil
200 ml (just under a cup) of dark beer
500 ml (2 cups) good-quailty beef stock
2 small turnips
2 celery sticks
2 to 3 smaller onions
1 bay leaf
2 thyme branches
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil on a large frying pan, add the oxtail pieces and brown them on all sides on a high heat. Transfer into a large heavy-bottomed oven dish with a lid (f.ex. a Dutch oven).
Pour the beer and stock into the pan, and bring into a boil. Simmer on a low heat for about an hour, skimming any froth and impurities that appear on the surface during the beginning. When no more froth is appearing, then cover the stockpot with a lid.
Peel the carrots and turnips and cut into chunks. Cut the celery sticks into an inch-long pieces, the onions into quarters. Dry-fry all vegetables on a frying pan, until they're lovely golden brown on all sides (this considerably improves the flavour). Add the browned vegetables to the stockpot alongside the spices.
Simmer for another 2-3 hours, until the meat easily falls off the bones.
Season and serve with my caraway-roasted potatoes.