I could expound on the glory, the finger licking and bone sucking - near orgasmic feat in devouring ox tail...
But that would just be cruel.
Ox tail is, and always will be, the completely misunderstood cut of meat.
Tough, stringy meat? ... sure
Fattiness cubed? ... but, of course
Bizarre weaponized bone structure? .... absolutely!
But, throw all that together in a long, s l o w cook - and you have something that not even your favorite Jewish grandmother's brisket can beat... except for that "back half of the cow thing."
Ox Tail - it is the only muscle in a cow that is constantly on the move. All that perpetual swishing creates some serious dense musculature, fat and connective tissue. The only way to make it palatable is to stew or braise it.
I've chosen to braise.
And, I've chosen to do it with little to no added liquid.
I'm telling you - get the extra wet naps ready... it's going to be epic-ly messy.
Braised Ox Tail
Given the rather large knuckle of tail bone holding everything together - forego the knife & fork and really let your inner animal out - you'll thank me tomorrow.
Serves 2 to 4
2 Large Onions - Peeled and Quartered
2 Stalks Celery - Halved
1 Large Carrot - Quartered
1 Clove Garlic - Crushed
1 Large Bay Leaf
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Cracked Pepper
1 Tablespoon Spicy Mustard
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
2 Tablespoons Ketchup (shush! yes, ketchup)
Strainer or China Cap
Small Sauce Pan
Preheat the oven to 325Barley & Pea Pilaf
Place everything - except the tomato sauce - in the dutch oven
Cover and bake at 325 for 3 hours
Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature
Lift out the ox tail and set aside
Skim out all the fat - It's ox tail, expect there to be a fair amount (fyi, I skimmed about 1/3 cup from a 6 joint pack)
Add the tomato juice to the veg and remaining juice; puree with the stick blender
Strain into a small sauce pan and reduce by 1/2 over medium heat
Add the tail joints back to the sauce and let simmer over low heat for 15 minutes
Serve with Barley / Pea Pilaf
While I'd probably just boil the bejeesus out of the barley, I wanted to see how the rice cooker would handle things on a fairly "no hands" technique. I actually like the barley better this way. The grains are perfectly cooked with a wonderful bite and nuttiness that you sometimes lose by submersing them in boiling water
1 Cup Pearled Barley
1 Cup Fresh Peas
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan
2 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Tablespoons Butter (if your chicken stock is particularly fatty, omit the butter, the fat on the stock will be just fine)
1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
6 to 8 Grates of Fresh Nutmeg
Add the barley, stock, pepper and nutmeg to the cooker and set to cook. (it will take around 25 minutes in the cooker. Let the barley sit in the cooker for a full 5 minutes before finishing the dish)
When the barley is done, blanch off and drain the peas and fold them in
Gently stir in the Parmesan and serve piping hot with the ox tail.