Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Braised Ox Tails

My mom used to make ox tails regularly. I remember really liking them because the meat was so tender. For some reason, I'd been thinking about them again lately. Some members of the Cooking Forum had made them & posted delicious looking pictures. Then my daughter saw someone making them on the Food Network. So when we found some meaty ones at our local grocery store, we both got a package.

I did my usual braising thing -- no recipe at all, just what I feel like at the moment. I use recipes for baking, but for main dishes, I normally just "wing" it. If I use a recipe at all, it's mainly as a guideline. I hardly ever measure ingredients. I just throw things together, taste as I go along, and hope for the best. That's how my mother cooked and her mother before her. And that's what I did with the ox tails.

I browned them well in a little bit of oil after cutting off extra chunks of fat. I removed some excess oil and then added one chopped up small onion. After the onion had browned a bit with the meat, I added four cloves of crushed garlic. A few seconds later, I added two blobs of tomato paste. (I freeze 2 tablespoon-size blobs of no salt tomato paste individually on a cookie sheet & when frozen, store them in a freezer bag.) I covered the ox tails with beef broth made from Minor's Beef Stock Base, added two bay leaves, and squirted in some Angostura Worcestershire Sauce. I threw in a couple of chopped grocery store fresh tomatoes that had gotten pretty soft. After braising for an hour, I added the juice of half a lemon to brighten the flavors.

I served the ox tails & sauce with Lemon Pepper Pappardelle from Trader Joe's. I thought the added flavor to the noodles would make them more interesting than just regular pasta. I was right. My husband loved the ox tails. He likes chewing on gristle & bone, so they were an enjoyable treat for him. And there was enough sauce & pappardelle left over to go with some simple sauteed pork chops I made the next night.

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