Royally Bathed Oxtail with Garlic Thyme Polenta
Yes, Oxtail is the part of the Cow (or Ox) that comes from exactly where it sounds like. If you didn’t grow up in a home where these scrap-parts were a staple, don’t turn your nose up. Oxtails are adored in kitchens all over the world, from Jamaica to Colombia all the way to Italy. And they deserve to be. Once cooked for hours, low and slow in a simmering caldron of sorts, the succulent meat falls right of the bone and is soft and tender to the tooth. Though it has the appearance of a high fat cut of meat, its protein to fat ratio is more than double. Should you eat this everyday? Like with all other foods, consume in moderation.
Basic vegetables and a splash of red wine and brandy give this humble protein an opulent flare. A bit of chipotle and smoked paprika add kick to the bass line. I urge you to try this recipe and perfume your home while the snow is coming down. There is almost nothing better.
Ingredients & Method (Serves 4-5)
For the Oxtail:
- 6 larges pieces of oxtail (or up to 10 of small to medium size)
- 1 green bell pepper, small dice
- 1 large carrot, small dice
- 1 large onion, small dice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- small handful of fresh thyme (about 10 sprigs)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 chipotles en adobo, minced
- 1 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper, small dice
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (hot or sweet, but stick with smoked if you can)
- 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes and juices, each one gently squeezed by hand
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- ¼ cup dry red wine
- ¼ cup brandy
- 2 teaspoons canola or any neutral oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. On medium-high, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot with a fitted lid, about 5 quarts in size. Season oxtails thoroughly with salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Add oxtails to pot (working in batches if necessary), browning well on all sides of each piece, about 6 minutes. Transfer oxtails to a plate and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pot. Return pot back to stove at medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until just translucent, about 5 minutes. Add pepper, carrots, Serrano (or jalapeno) pepper and chipotle and cook for another few minutes until they begin to soften. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Add garlic. At the moment garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute, add wine and brandy and cook until the liquid is almost completely evaporated. Add tomato paste and coat the vegetable mixture well. Add whole tomatoes (crushed by hand), chicken or beef stock, thyme and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil and return oxtails to the pot. Liquid should come up about half-way up the oxtails or a bit more, but should not be fully submerged. Reduce the mixture to a soft simmer, cover and transfer to oven. Let braise for about 2 hours or until the meat is pulling away from the bones. Season with salt to taste.
For the Polenta:
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups low fat milk
- 1 tablespoon picked thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, microplaned (or minced if a microplane is not available)
- Salt to taste
In a pot, bring water, milk, thyme and garlic to a boil. Remove pot from heat and pour in polenta in a steady stream while constantly whisking. Polenta should be smooth and creamy. Add salt to taste.
Serve under saucy oxtail for a warm, homey meal.