[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Oxtail Stroganoff
17 January 2014
[Oxtail Stroganoff]

I had a craving the other day for broccoli with an onion dip of some kind. So I caramelized and cooked down some onions and mixed it with yoghurt and made a French oniony sort of dip and it was just fine. Which is neither here nor there, really, except that it meant that I had a good, sharply sour, yoghurt in the house when I began to consider my options for the really fantastic looking oxtails I also had in the house.

In the past, I've usually done Stroganoff style dishes with thin medallions of pork tenderloin, rather than the thinly sliced beef fillet which is more traditional. In both cases, however, you have meat which cooks quickly, in a very few minutes, with a sauce that is finished almost as quickly. Clearly, if I was going to use oxtails, a different approach would be needed. [Lots of pictures]

Oxtail Stroganoff

In a large, oven-safe dish, heat your olive oil. Dust your oxtails liberally with salt and pepper, and cut your onions into shapes that please you. I halved them and cut them into slices, myself. Brown the oxtails on all sides, and when you get the last side started, push them to one side and add the onions. Let the onions cook for a minute or two, then rearrange everything more evenly in the dish, add the cup-and-a-half of water, cover the dish and put it into a low oven. By 'low,' I mean something like 110C/225F if you can.

Now, and I can't emphasize this enough, you must cook it for hours and hours. Three is about right. If you look at the pictures, that first one was after two hours, and the oxtails are cooked, clearly, but at that point they are tough and chewy. The next one was at three hours, and now the meat was ready to just fall off the bone. (This, by the way, is also the secret to pot-roast. And why I like low-and-slow barbecue.) Somewhere in that last hour, magic happens. Note, as well, that this is not boiled to death, it's a braise. That's important, too. In any case, after about three hours, the oxtails should be about ready to go. Remove them from the dish and let them cool on a plate.

Cut your mushrooms and add them to the oniony, brothy goodness. Start that simmering. Remove the meat from the tailbones. If you listened to me and let them cook long enough, this should involve picking the oxtail up by the bone and running your finger along each joint while the meat falls to plate below. Shred it or cut it up a bit, and if you've got big chunks of fat left, cut them up or remove them as you like. I just sort of cut them up a bit and left them in the mix. If you want a low-fat dish, you are looking in the wrong place.

When the mushrooms are nearly cooked, return the meat to the dish. Check the seasoning and adjust as needed. If you are going to use paprika, which I highly recommend, add some now. I used a couple of teaspoons, but your mileage may vary. Add the yoghurt, stir, check the seasoning one more time and you are ready to go.

Now, if you like a thicker sauce, you could thicken it up with cornstarch slurry or buerre manié. Or cook it down. Or add a lot more dairy. Or, and I did this the second day with the leftovers, if you're going to serve it with mashed potatoes rather than the standard noodles, use some of the gravy as the liquid for the mashies. That worked a treat, let me tell you.

Until next time, when I'll get medieval again ...

© 2014 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite