Oxtail Soup Disaster and Recovery

May 23, 2009

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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Kale Bacon and Eggs

April 21, 2009

kale_bacon_eggs

I’ve been trying to get better about cooking during the week. It hard because we’re usually hungry when we get home, and a bowl of cereal quickly takes care of the pangs. I know, I know, I should eat a snack around 3:00 or 4:00. Usually I cook on weekends and try to make enough so we have leftovers for the week. The past couple weekends have been spent with family, so I haven’t had a chance to cook and subsequently we have no leftovers. True to form I came home this afternoon and had a small bowl of cereal. I was going to have another but decided to make an attempt at throwing something together. We’ve got some cottage bacon we need to get rid of, and I purchased some kale the other day from the grocery store. What came out was actually pretty tasty. I overcooked the egg and added a bit too much salt, not taking into account the salty garnishes. But overall we were pleased and it was more satisfying than a second bowl of cereal.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 3 oz of bacon, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 pound kale, including stems, roughly chopped
  • 2 large eggs, fried
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

You need a large frying pan with lid. Saute bacon on medium with a bit of oil till crispy. Remove bacon from oil and set aside. Turn up heat a bit and add pepper flakes and garlic. Stir garlic once or twice and deglaze the pan with vermouth. Add chicken stock and kale stems. Cover and let the stems cook for a couple minutes, then add the kale leaves. Cover, cook at a medium simmer, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender. While the kale is cooking fry the eggs. To serve, mound kale on a plate, garnish with Parmesan cheese, bacon and top with an egg. Should feed two.

By Kenton


Kale with Purple Majesty Potatoes

April 15, 2009

kale_blue_potatoes

We picked up our first order of the Spring from the Nebraska Food Cooperative last Thursday. Yesterday I finally got around to using some of our purchases. Using The Flavor Bible I looked up kale. I decided to use the following suggested ingredients in the dish: potatoes, onion, red pepper flakes, garlic, pork, chicken stock. The dish turned out great as far as taste, but it’s not the most appetizing thing to look at. The potatoes were a little overdone and the bacon wasn’t crisp. But I’ve got some ideas on how to rectify that, which I’ll list at the end of this post.

First I’d like to introduce the local fair I used to create this dish.

cottage_bacon

The Cottage Bacon was purchased from Harvest Valley Foods. Cottage bacon is made from the shoulder of the pig, not from the sides or belly like most bacon. As a result the cottage bacon is more lean. The bacon from Harvest Valley Foods had a nice smoky flavor and not too salty.

purple_potatoes

The potatoes we didn’t order, they were free! Nebraska Specialty Produce was at Jane’s Benson Health Market, our pickup place for NFC, giving them away. Apparently they had a few potatoes left over from last year. They had three varieties: Bintje, Purple Majesty and Laratte Fingerling. We chose to go with the Purple Majesty, instead of a mixed bag. We really liked the potatoes they gave us, and we’ll purchase some more when they have a new crop this year. Both Bob and Tanner Lemon seemed like real nice people. They don’t have a website at the moment, but they can be reached at rlemon [at] curtis-ne [dot] com.

kale_cutting_celery

The kale was purchased from Community Crops. The kale is on the left in the picture and cutting celery on the right. I made pesto out of the cutting celery, which I’ll post about at a later date. The kale was flavorful, clean, and the stems small enough to eat. The only thing I didn’t like about the kale was the size of the bunch, 3-3/4 oz. I just have to remember to purchase more than one bunch next time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of potatoes, cubed
  • 6-8 oz of kale, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 4 oz cottage bacon, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Precook potatoes until they are almost soft all the way through, drain, and set aside. Add the bacon to a large frying pan, with the oil, over medium low heat. Slowly cook the bacon to release the fat. Once the fat has rendered as much as it’s going to, turn up the heat and add the onion and red pepper flakes. Saute the onion until it’s translucent, then add the garlic. Stir the garlic until it releases it’s aroma and add the chicken stock. Mix in the potatoes and kale, reduce the heat and cover. Cook until kale is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

As I mentioned before I wasn’t completely happy with the way this dish turned out. Next time I try this I’m going to braise the kale with the chicken stock in a separate pan. Then at the end, briefly toss the potatoes in the bacon, garlic, onion, oil mixture; add the soft kale and warm through. That way hopefully the bacon will be crispy and the potatoes won’t be too soft.

By Kenton