Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
Recently, I’d gotten a request from my wife to make oxtails. I should’ve known, given how much she likes trotters. But how to prepare them? One possible way I could’ve gone was to do a Korean-style preparation with daikon, onions and potatoes. It then occurred to me to try it in red wine – sort of an oxtail bourguignon. That’s when I decided to consult Thomas Keller’s Bouchon. And there it was: Braised Beef With Red Wine (using short ribs) on pgs. 212-215
An online version of the original recipe can be found here:
While the original Bouchon recipe went through two phases with the vegetables (1 for red wine reduction and 1 to cook with the short ribs), I chose to combine them all as part of the red wine reduction phase.
So for the red wine phase, I combined
1 bottle cabernet sauvignon (I used Martin Ray here)
1+1 cup of onions diced (1/2″)
1+2/3 cup (2 cups, 1/2″) of sliced peeled carrots
1+1 1/2 cups (about 2 cups) of sliced (1/2″) leeks
1 cup sliced (1/4″) shallots
1 cup sliced bella mushrooms
3+3 thyme sprigs
2+2 bay leaves
2+2 crushed garlic cloves
3+3 parsley sprigs
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
I combined this into a stock pot and let it run for about 45 minutes at 50% max power (“medium heat).
I’d gotten about 4 lbs of oxtails from Whole Foods, Fresh Pond (Alewife) for the meal. While the red wine mix was reducing down, I went ahead with preparing the oxtails. Into a baking pan, I spread some all purpose baking flour. After I seasoned each piece of oxtail with a few 3-fingered pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix, I ‘rolled’ it in the flour to coat them for browning.
After preheating my large wok, I added some rice oil to coat the bottom of the pan and seared the
coated oxtails until they were brown on all sides. Of course, with the amount of oxtails, I had to do this
in batches. The browned oxtails were then transferred to my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker. By the time I was finished preparing all the oxtails, I placed a strainer over the pressure cooker to strain the red wine reduction
into that pot. To finish the preparations before cooking, I added 2 8oz containers of Strauss veal stock and just enough water to cover all the meat. That filled about 1/2 of the pressure cooker. I closed up the pressure cooker and let it run for 40 minutes after the pot came up to pressure (2nd red ring showing).
All I had to do now was prepare the roasted vegetables to go onto the serving plates. After cleaning small yellow creamer potatoes, I carefully added multiple vertical slashes into them before tossing them in a bit of garlic oil, and 4:1 salt/pepper mix. The remaining cippollinis, carrots, and button mushrooms were also cleaned and tossed with garlic oil and 4:1 salt/pepper mix. Each of the vegetables were placed into respective oval ramekins and covered with foil. And off they went to cook in a pre-heated 425 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
Now it was just a matter of getting the vegetables onto the plates’ borders and then placing a couple of oxtails in the plate’s center. Once that was done, I carefully poured in about 4-5 tablespoons of the braising liquid. Some good crusty baguette accompanied the oxtail meal. My wife loved the dish, commenting how much softer the oxtails were than trotters (not to mention its lush gelatinous texture). If memory serves, in Iron Chef Sakai’s jinhua pork contest, Iron Chef Sakai presented ribs & trotters atop ring-molded mushroom rice. In retrospect, I think that might be a nice way to present this dish – roasted vegetables at the plate’s borders, a ring of mushroom rice in the center crowned with an oxtail with the sauce forming a ‘moat’ in the plate.