Monday, January 21, 2008

Oxtail soup

The 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking is a lot more fun to read than the 1997 revision. Granted it has recipes for things that would never darken the door of the contemporary cook's kitchen, like sea turtle, bear, opossum and raccoon, but that's what makes it exciting reading!

In case you ever need to fix a bear, be sure you remove all of the fat promptly because it turns rancid very quickly. Then you can marinade it for 24 hours and prepare as you would a beef pot roast. Who knew?

Well, I've not been bear hunting recently but I did decide to consult the 1975 hardback of Joy for an oxtail soup recipe after spying some oxtail in the butcher counter at Compare Supermarket. Oxtail, by the way, is a lovely and impressive description for cow's tail that's been sectioned at the joints with a surprising amount of meat attached.

Next time I will double this recipe because it made only about 3 large bowls of soup that I've had as main course for the past three meals.

Here is the recipe from 1975 ed. Joy of Cooking, page 154 (I don't know what page in the 1997 ed.):

2lbs of oxtail
1/2 c sliced onions
2 T butter
8 c water
1 1/2 t salt
4 peppercorns

Brown the oxtail and onions in the butter. Then add the water, peppercorns and salt. Simmer for 4 1/2 hours.

Add to the oxtail broth:

1/4 c. diced carrots
1/2 c. diced celery
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes
1/4 c. barley
1 t. dried thyme, basil or marjoram (I like thyme)

Cook for 30 minutes. Chill overnight and degrease. When ready to serve, warm the soup up and slowly add a brown roux of 1 T flour cooked with 2 T butter until dark golden in color. Correct the seasonings of salt and pepper.

If desired, add 1/4 c. sherry to soup before serving.


Marsosudiro said...

"In case you ever need to fix a bear..."

Just FYI, you made me want to make a joke about either (a) a bear that was broken or (b) a bear that needed to be neutered :-)

How WAS your soup, by the way?

Oxtail soup is famous traditional dish across Java, and if I see it on the menu, I order it almost automatically.

When I'm in the Philippines, my first food order is almost always a bowl of soup made with cow's stomach (the soup, not the bowl).

Regarding bear, have you seen the movie "A Chef in Love"? The story takes place in the country of Georgia, and in one of the scenes, the chef (who is a guest at another restaurant out in the countryside) correctly guesses that an ingredient is bear's liver. At least that's how I recall it.

Vera said...


Growing up, My mother, her sister and I always had our pick of our favorite meals that my grandmother would cook on special occasions...Mine was oxtails!

I only get to make them everyso often...luckily Sean isnt too wigged out by them...

essentially, abuela would braise them in a liquid mixture that would generally involve water and some tomato sauce, onion, peppers, garlic, etc. then when the liquid would cook away down to a pasty gravy, she would roast them under a high heat until the rendering sticking to the tails would caramelize..MM!

the only think i've chenged is instead of water, i add some red wine, along with a bit of tomato and lemon and the veggies, and i make a nice sauce/ gravy from the renderings in the pot.

serve with white rice and some black or red beans...

sorry...dont mean to co-opt...but i love oxtials! lol

Kelly said...

Love some oxtail myself! Browning it with the onion in the butter made the broth fabulously dark, rich, and beefy.

I'm much less wigged out by a cow's tail or foot than I am by a cow's tongue or intestines.

Vera said...

I still cant get him to have pigs feet tho..pfft

Marsosudiro said...

I've almost never cooked with sherry but my impression is that it amplifies the richness. I'm guessing that it's like a bottle full of umami.

I must remember to get some for cooking in the future, to see what happens. Especially if I add it to vegetarian dishes that can feel so lacking without "meatiness".

Regarding your comparison of oxtail (and maybe feet) to tongue and intestine, you inspired a brief theory on appeal being inversely related to the proximity to cow-caca, but that theory went nowhere in a hurry. As folks have talked about in other parts, I suspect that the texture of tongue and intestine is the biggest weirdo thing to most people. Or maybe it's something entirely different :-)