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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, the Oxtail Soup is in the Freezer

We don't see our older son, Frank, as often as we'd like. He's started a new job and moved across town to West Hollywood so it isn't easy to coordinate our busy schedules. We miss our time together, especially the chance to have a meal and catch up. As a parent, one of my pleasures is cooking for the boys. Since Frank can't always come to us, we've worked out a way that the food can get to him.

When my mom moved back to California from Costa Rica, she didn't enjoy cooking any longer. Her apartment had a full kitchen but she pretty much survived on microwaved food. When she came to our house, we'd make her home-cooked meals but that wasn't often enough, only once every several months. In time we came up with a plan. Whenever we'd visit her, we'd fill her freezer with food I'd prepared so she'd have home-cooked meals whenever she wanted. Frank gets the benefit of that well-rehearsed system. As often as possible I try to do the same for him.

When he was growing up one of his favorite dishes was oxtail soup. Since his birthday is tomorrow, I thought that would be a nice addition to his freezer.

Oxtail Soup

Foods freeze well when a liquid coats the surface. Meat rubbed with olive oil survives freezing without any damage. Soups and stews do well because the food bits are submerged in liquid. The oxtail meat is succulent, but it takes several hours of braising to coax out all of its considerable flavor.

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 4 hours + overnight in the refrigerator

Ingredients

2 pounds oxtails (washed)
4 carrots (washed, ends trimmed, peeled, cut into 1" rounds)
8 garlic cloves (peeled, finely chopped)
2 medium yellow onions (peeled, ends trimmed, roughly chopped)
1 cup Italian parsley (washed, finely chopped)
30 whole peppercorns
2 cups mushrooms (washed, sliced) portabella, shiitake, or brown
2 medium tomatoes (washed)
3 ounces tomato paste (preferably an Italian brand like Cento)
1/4 pound green beans (ends trimmed, cut into 2" lengths)
1 small bunch spinach (ends trimmed, washed thoroughly, roughly chopped)
2 ears of corn (husks and silks removed, cut into 2" lengths or kernels removed from the cob)
Sea salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the tomatoes on a Silpat sheet or piece of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove, let cool, pull off the skin, and roughly chop. In a large dutch oven brown the oxtails with olive oil seasoned with sea salt and black pepper, remove from the pan, pour off the excess fat and lightly brown 2 carrots, 1 chopped onion, 4 garlic cloves, the Italian parsley, 20 whole peppercorns, and 1 cup of the mushroom slices. Return the oxtails to the pan along with the chopped roasted tomatoes and 8 cups of water. Cover and simmer for 3 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Remove the oxtails from the liquid, let cool, remove the meat and discard the bones. Strain out the cooked vegetables and discard. Return the meat to the liquid and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning skim off and discard the fat. Lightly brown the remaining vegetables with olive oil and the 10 whole peppercorns. Add the meat and soup, stir in the tomato paste and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt. Serve with a fresh baguette, a plate of plain pasta or a mashed potato, and a salad.

1 comment:

jaibone said...

Your presentation of a recipes is pretty spectacular. With photos of ingredients done in proper mise. If you like asada, I have a marinade you should try.... cilantro, jalapeno, red onion, some good New Mexico chili powder, garlic, s&p, and some vegetable or canola oil. Put it all in a plastic bag, add beef, chicken, or a pork loin and marinate for a few hours before putting it on the grill... Killer good I tell you.... and, with all the tomatoes and cukes in the markets right now, add the two together when you make salsa next time. The cukes add a fresh crunch.....