Sunday, April 14, 2013

Oxtail Stew

Oxtail (occasionally spelled ox tail or ox-tail) is the culinary name for the tail of cattle. Formerly, it referred only to the tail of an ox or steer, a castrated male.[citation needed] An oxtail typically weighs 2 to 4 lbs. (1–1.8 kg) and is skinned and cut into short lengths for sale. Oxtail is a bony, gelatin-rich meat, which is usually slow-cooked as a stew or braised. It is a traditional stock base for a soup.

Although traditional preparations often involve hours of slow cooking, modern methods usually take a shortcut by utilizing a pressure cooker. Oxtail is the main ingredient of the Italian dish coda alla vaccinara. It is a popular flavour for powder, instant and premade canned soups in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Oxtails are also one of the popular bases for Russian aspic appetizer dishes (холодец or студень), along with pig trotters or ears or cow "knees", but are the preferred ingredients among Russian Jews because they can be Kosher.

Versions of oxtail soup are popular traditional dishes in South America, West Africa, China, Spain and Indonesia. In Korean cuisine, a soup made with oxtail is called kkori gomtang (꼬리곰탕).It is a thick soup seasoned with salt and eaten with a bowl of rice. It can be used as a stock for making tteokguk (rice cake soup).
Jamaican Oxtail Stew photo by Helen Food Stories at FlickrStewed oxtail with butter beans or as main dish (with rice) is popular in Jamaica, Trinidad, and other West Indian cultures.

Oxtail is also very popular in South Africa where it is often cooked in a traditional skillet called a potjie, which is a 3 legged cast iron pot placed over an open fire. Oxtail is also eaten in other southern parts of Africa like Zimbabwe and served with sadza and greens. In the United States, oxtail is a mainstay in African American and Jamaican households. In the United States, oxtail has the meat-cutting classification NAMP 1791.

From wikiHOW
Recipe For Oxtail Stew [3 Methods] Makes 4 to 6 Servings
[Ask the butcher to cut the oxtails when you purchase them. Oxtails are usually cut already, but if not, it is advisable to have a professional butcher cut through the bone rather than attempting to do so yourself.]
Raw Oxtails photo by FotoosVanRobin at Flickr and wikimediaCreativeCommons

4 lbs (1800 g) oxtails, sliced
1 1/2 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5 cm) long
2 Tbsp (30 ml) salt
2 cups (500 ml) beef broth
1/4 cup (60 ml) Balsamic vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup (125 to 250 ml)
red wine
[If you do not want to use wine,
you could substitute it for an equal
amount of additional beef broth]

3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh thyme
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh oregano
2 tsp (10 ml) fresh tarragon
1 medium onion, chopped
4 Tbsp (60 ml) olive oil
4 Tbsp (60 ml) all-purpose flour

Method 1:
Combine the oxtails, salt, Balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, and onion. Place these ingredients in a large, heavy stock pot. Cover the ingredients with liquid. Pour enough beef broth and red wine into the stockpot to cover the ingredients. Start with the beef broth and make up the difference with the red wine. If you still do not have enough liquid to cover the ingredients, add a little water or additional broth. Stew the oxtails for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high to high heat. After it begins to boil, stir it, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to medium. Let it simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Stir the oxtails every 15 to 30 minutes to ensure even cooking. If the liquid is still boiling rapidly after dropping the heat, you may need to drop the heat to medium-low. The oxtails should cook in simmering liquid, not rapidly boiling liquid. Remove the pot from the heat after the designated amount of time has passed. Warm the olive oil and flour in a skillet over medium heat. Heat the oil first for 30 to 60 seconds before adding the flour. Stir continuously for 3 minutes. Vegetable oil, bacon drippings, or shortening can also be used instead of olive oil.

Remove 4 cups (1 l) of liquid from the stock pot. Add this liquid to the skillet and stir continuously until a thick gravy forms.
You can also add a few dashes of browning sauce to the gravy to deepen the color. The gravy can be flavored with additional salt, pepper, and garlic powder, if desired. Remove the skillet from the heat. Coat the oxtails in the gravy. Transfer the oxtails from the stock pot to the skillet, coating them with the gravy by stirring them in. Heat over medium-low for 5 minutes. Serve warm. Allow the oxtails to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Method 2 Stovetop & Oven:
Salt the oxtails. Rub the oxtails with the salt, using enough salt to coat the meat on all sides.
Allow them to sit in a glass bowl at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse the salt off. Use running water and scrub the salt off with your fingers. You need to remove virtually all salt from the meat. Otherwise, you will end up with an excruciatingly salty dish by the end.

Preheat the oven and a heavy, oven-safe pot. The oven needs to be preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius). Heat 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil in the pot over medium-high heat. Vegetable oil, shortening, or bacon drippings can also be used instead of the olive oil. The pot must be oven-safe since you will be transferring it directly from the stovetop to the oven. It should also have a lid.

Saute the garlic in the pot. After the oil begins to smoke, saute the minced garlic, stirring frequently until it begins to brown. Brown the oxtails. Add the oxtail slices cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring, until they are brown on all sides. Add the liquids and seasonings to the pot. Fill the pot with the beef broth and Balsamic vinegar. Use enough red wine to cover the top of the meat by 1 inch (2.5 cm). Mix in the rosemary, thyme, oregano, and tarragon.

Transfer the pot to the oven and continue cooking. Cover the pot and put it into the preheated oven for 3 to 4 hours. Check on the oxtails periodically to make sure that there is still enough liquid. If the volume begins to dip below the surface of the meat, add more wine. The oxtails are done when the meat begins to fall off the bone. Sprinkle with chopped onions, if desired. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes. For a milder flavor, substitute the onion for 2 chopped leeks.

Serve warm. Remove the bones from the oxtails prior to serving, or allow your guests to do so themselves. If desired, create a gravy by stirring the flour into the cooking liquid and heating the liquid on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Allow the liquid to boil and thicken, adding more flour if necessary, and serve with the oxtails.

Method 3 The Slow Cooker:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Use medium-high heat. Vegetable oil, bacon grease, or shortening may also be used instead of olive oil.

Season and brown the oxtails. Sprinkle the oxtails with enough salt to season them and coat the slices in flour. Add them to the skillet and cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until evenly browned on all sides. This step could be skipped, but browning the meat beforehand adds a significant amount of flavor to the final dish. Coating the oxtails in flour leads to better browning.

Transfer the oxtails and other ingredients to the slow cooker. Place the oxtails in the slow cooker. Cover with Balsamic vinegar, garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and onion. Pour in the broth and add enough red wine to cover the meat by about 1 inch (2.5 cm).

To make cleaning up easier, you could spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. You could also use a nonstick slow cooker liner. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours. You could also cook the oxtails for 3 to 4 hours on high.

Do not stir the contents of the slow cooker or open the lid as it cooks. Doing so could release a significant amount of heat, and you may need to add an additional 30 minutes onto the cooking time simply by opening it for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and transfer the oxtails to a serving platter. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || WikiHOW || Image Credits: Food Stories photo by Helen at Flickr || Raw Oxtails

Monday, April 8, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

Cottage pie or shepherd's pie is a meat pie with a crust of mashed potato. The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791, when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. "cottage" meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers).

The potato was first domesticated in the region of modern-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia between the 8000 and 5000 BCE. It has since spread around the world and become a staple crop in many countries. Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which had three major advantages over other foods for the consumer: its lower rate of spoilage, its bulk (which easily satisfied hunger), and its cheapness.

The crop slowly spread across Europe, such that, for example, by 1845 it occupied one-third of Irish arable land.[citation needed] Potatoes comprised about 10% of the caloric intake of Europeans.[citation needed] Along with several other foods that either originated in the Americas or were successfully grown or harvested there, potatoes sustained European populations

A St. Stephen's Day pie is a made using turkey and ham. A vegetarian version (occasionally named "Shepherdless Pie") can be made using soya or other meat substitutes (like tofu or Quorn), or legumes such as lentils or chickpeas. The Cumberland pie is a version with a layer of bread crumbs on top.

In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top. The term "shepherd's pie" did not appear until 1877, and since then it has been used synonymously with "cottage pie", regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. More recently, the term "shepherd's pie" has been used when the meat is lamb, the theory being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle.

From wikibooks Cookbook
Recipe For Shepherd's Pie

1 oz lard [optional]
1 lb minced or ground lamb or beef
3 lbs potatoes [King Edward recommended]
1 large or 2 small onions
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Cups beef stock [alternatively, bouillon cubes can be used,
or gravy powder, if the flour is omitted]

grated cheese [optional]
a handful of mixed vegetables such as sweetcorn or carrots
mixed herbs

Brown the mince in a frying pan. Depending on the fat content of the minced meat, there may be no need to add oil, as the meat is often fatty enough. Finely chop the onion and lightly fry in a little butter until clear. Add the onions to the mince along with the mixed herbs and some pepper. Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and stir and cook for 3 - 4 minutes [if using gravy powder, omit this step].
Cover with beef stock [or add water and beef bouillon/gravy powder] and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile: Peel, chop and boil the potatoes for 20 minutes until cooked. Once the meat is cooked, skim off the excess fat, then boil rapidly to reduce the liquid until it just covers the mince and onions. Drain the potatoes very well until completely dry. Mash until smooth and free of any lumps. Add butter to the mashed potato, taste and adjust the seasoning.

Add enough milk to make the mash very soft [heavy mash will not float properly on top of the mince]. Put mince mixture in a shallow oven proof dish. Spread the mash on top of the meat and brush the tops of the potatoes with melted butter. If desired, sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the mash. If cooking without cheese, spike the top with a fork – that is, rough up the surface of the mash by dragging a fork across it, as if ploughing a field. Cook in a hot oven for about 30-50 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve with peas or beans, or other green vegetables.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || wikibooks cookbook || History Of The Potato Image Credit: Susieclue