Oxtail Soup Disaster and Recovery

oxtail

I bought four pounds of oxtail from North Star Neighbors through the Nebraska Food Cooperative last month.  The oxtail sells for $2.95 a pound.  I got around to using it earlier in the week.  My original plan was to use up the last of my kimchi making a Korean inspired soup.  Somehow during the process, I forgot about Korea and drifted to Mexico for inspiration.  That’s when things went wrong.

My plan was to sear the oxtail, simmer for two hours, and during the last hour, add the aromatic vegetable bits that I had dutifully saved in the freezer.  I forgot to add the aromatics during the last hour, which turned out to be a good thing.  Not wanting to cook the meat into oblivion, I pulled the meat and added the vegetables to the broth, and simmered for an additional hour.  Then disaster struck as inspiration kicked in — I decided to add some smoky heat to the broth, in the form of one ancho chile and four chipoltle chilies.  Someone out there is probably cringing right now, who knows much more, or even a little more than I do about these dried peppers.  I was reveling in the bouquet the broth was giving off as I took my first taste….. and then bletch.  All it tasted like was, well I don’t know how to describe it, a smoky, bitter, bad.  I paused for a bit and then thought, add some salt and acid, and the soup will be back on track.  I added salt and it was a bit better.  I grabbed a bottle of red wine and added a cup or so, tasted, added more wine, tasted, and then added the whole bottle.  The broth still tasted terrible.  Now I was in a real pickle.  I was at the end of my culinary recovery ability.  Part of me wanted to press forward, add the meat and vegetables and make the soup.  The other part, the rational part, finally won.  I poured the whole works down the drain.  I pulled the meat from the bones, put it in the fridge and we ate cold cereal.

oxtail_chard

Luckily, due to the fact I hadn’t cooked the chilies with the meat, there was flavorful, tender beef to use.  I decided to attempt making a barbecue sauce for the meat.  For a side I settled on a Sicilian Style Sauteed Greens recipe, from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, using the swiss chard I purchased from the farmer’s market.  I turned to the Internet for a barbecue sauce template and settled on one from Culinary Cafe.  I’m happy to report both the swiss chard and the barbecue turned out wonderfully.

Barbecue

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds of oxtail, cooked until tender and pulled
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 onion diced and caramelized
  • 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

In a sauce pan, over medium high heat, add butter and onions.  Saute onions until just beginning to brown on the edges.  Then reduce heat to medium low, and slowly cook onion until caramelized.  While the onion is cooking, combine: brown sugar, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, cayenne and black pepper.  Once the onions are caramelized increase the heat to medium and add the spice/oil mixture, deglazing the pan.  Next, add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 30 minutes, add meat and warm through.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Ingredients:

Greens

  • 1 pound swiss chard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper

Nut mixture

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup raisins, roughly chopped

Directions:

Pull stems off chard and chop.  Cut chard leaves into one inch strips.

Next prepare the nut mixture.  In a large saute pan over medium heat, add olive oil, red pepper flakes and onion.  Cook until onion is soft, then add garlic.  Once garlic has added it’s flavor, about one minute, add the nuts and raisins.  Cook until the raisins are soft, approximately two minutes.  Pull mixture from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and chard stems.  Cook stems for one minute, then begin adding chard leaves a handful at a time, as the leaves wilt, stirring between handfuls.  Once the chard is tender, reduce heat to medium, add the butter, stir to incorporate.  Add the lemon juice, stir, and add the nut mixture.  Stir for about a minute and pull off the heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

By Kenton

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