But sometimes a recipe just hits you between the eyes and launches that "Gotta Have It!" thing. That's what happened to me when I read Danielle's kumquat braised oxtail with chestnut stracci recipe over at Habeas Brulee. I hadn't even thought of oxtail since I lived in New Mexico. My husband used to make it from time to time. In fact, he used to experiment with all kinds of odd cuts of meat, turning them into fabulous meals. But I'm not sure that was why I had to have this. I think it was the thought of chestnut stracci. The combination of a hint of chestnut playing off a rich, dense combination of beef and citrusy kumquat was more than I could stand, and I rarely eat beef! But alas, I was unable to find chestnut flour. Does anyone know where to get this magical stuff? I must have gone to 4 different places. From Little Italy, to Whole Foods to Henry's, no one had it. I suspect it's only available online, and I couldn't wait that long. After all, it just might decide to turn summery again, and then I'd be off on one of my long walks. My favorite walks these days take me down to Little Italy, usually for a latte at my favorite Cafe Italia. I bring a book, read a chapter, and then take a stroll around downtown...But I digress........Today we're having bipolar weather. One minute it's sunny, the next it looks like the heavens will open up and drown you if you even think of walking anywhere. Still perfect weather for this oxtail, though. I'll give you the recipe just as Danielle wrote it. Then I'll tell you what happened to me while trying to make this. It was one hilarious kitchen fiasco after another. Never in my culinary history have I burned 2 pots in one day. Is there an Olympic event for this? I'd qualify in a heartbeat! A friend of mine told me that Mercury was in retrograde. Maybe that explains it. Anyway, here's the recipe:
Kumquat Braised Oxtail
3 lbs oxtail, in 2″ (or so) thick slices
Oil for browning
1/2 lb kumquats, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds and deseeded (don’t stress too much, since they’ll be strained out and discarded in the end)
6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 C water
Brown the oxtail in little oil. Stir in all other ingredients except for the balsamic vinegar. Pressure cook at high pressure for 50 minutes (or braise over low heat for probably about 4 hours or so, or until tender).
Remove the oxtail and let cool a bit.
In the meantime, strain the sauce and stir in the balsamic. You can reduce it at this point if necessary, but it really should be thick and lusciously flavorful enough already with no need for reduction.
Pull the meat off the bones, saving the fat, bone, and connective tissue in the freezer for the next time you make beef stock.
Shred the meat and stir it into the sauce.
Refrigerate overnight, and skim off the solidified fat the next day before serving.
3 C all-purpose flour
1 C chestnut flour
1-2 tbsp olive oil
A big pinch of salt
Knead the ingredients together until they form a dough, then continue kneading for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Let it rest at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap for 15-30 minutes.
Roll it out as thin as you can - at least as thin as a dime! It will double in thickness when it cooks.
Let it rest another 15 minutes before cutting it into irregular shapes with a fluted pastry wheel.
Cook in salted boiling water for just a few minutes, then strain and serve with the sauce.Kitchen Tales: OK, so I told you that I couldn't find the chestnut flour, so I didn't make that pasta. (Sniff!) I put all the ingredients into the pressure cooker, fired it up and when it started hissing at me, I turned it down enough so that it would still hiss from time to time, but didn't threaten to detonate. I went to my office and began answering emails. Big mistake. Next thing I knew, I was smelling the meat. I ran back to the kitchen, turned off the pot and tweaked the pressure valve on top so that it would let off steam quickly. When it was safe to open the pot, I discovered that yes, all the liquid had boiled away, and the meat was kinda stuck to the bottom of the pan. Glued, actually. After prying as much loose as I could, I saved the bones. I was bound and determined to make this puppy turn out, or I was going to hand in my apron.
After prying, scraping and scrubbing my pot so that it was back to it's glistening stainless steel self, I put some chopped onions, kumquats, spices, oil and the bones in the pan, along with both water and beef broth. (In fact, I used some beef broth in the first go-round.) I fired up that pot and let 'er rip for about 15 minutes, at which time I turned it off, let off the steam, opened it up and saw the most luscious looking sauce staring back at me! Yessss!! Things were looking up!
So I put on a pot of water to boil those fascinating circles of pasta I found, covered it and went back to answering a few emails. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? I'm reminded of the lyrics to the Bob Dylan song, "What's the price you gotta pay, to keep from goin' through all of this twice? But yes, that pot was stainless as well, so it returned to it's gleaming self after another bout of scrubbing. Pasta was boiled, without incident, and the whole thing turned out to be a lyrical success.
Now, as for kumquats. They're only available in the winter. Mostly people eat them raw, and pop the whole thing into their mouths, as the rind is sweeter than the flesh. In China, they have a way of preserving them in salt, and after a while they get a dark brown brine from this process. A few teaspoons of this brine in hot water will cure a sore throat. If you're of a mind to, you can macerate them in vodka or another clear alcohol and get a lucious kumquat liqueur. In Vietnam, kumquat trees are used as decoration during the Tet holiday, which happens to coincide with Chinese New Year.
And the reason for all this info on kumquats? Because I'm entering this into this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Lia over at Swirling Notions. If I had known about her Braisy Chain event, I probably would have entered this into it. But we grow our online community through events, and learn about other fabulous bloggers this way.