Thursday, February 21, 2008

Kumquat Braised Oxtail

You people are just killing me. I swear, I need to find someone quickly, because there are too many good recipes being posted these days, and I truly want someone to share them with! But I'm single, and my cat really isn't into people food. (Except yogurt.) So unless I decide to throw a banquet and invite all my friends, there's no way I'm going to get to taste these divine meals you guys are turning out. Is there a way to do a virtual pot luck?

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.

Chestnut Stracci
3 C all-purpose flour
1 C chestnut flour
6 eggs
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.


Sarah C. said...

I completely understand what you mean when you talk about being single. I love to cook also and am always carting food into the lab so that I dont eat it all and become the size of a house. My mom says I will meet some one, but I am not sure how that is supposed to happen when I am either in the lab working or on my couch researching...sigh

I have just recently started incorporating beef into my diet and I have always been intrigued by oxtail. I am intimidated by it too since I have no idea how to cook it or even what it looks like in all seriousness. Thanks for the recipe, it truly looks amazing. Do you have a pic of the uncooked oxtail?

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous photos! I'm glad you had fun with the recipe. I'd appreciate it if you'd link back to my original post, though. Thanks!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Try for chestnut flour; it's often available there.

Toni said...

Sarah - You have a lab, I've got a clinic. But I don't always remind people to not bring lunch, so I still get stuck with a bunch of food!

I don't have a picture of an uncooked oxtail. I went to a Vietnamese market and got it there. You might ask the butcher at your local market where you might be able to score some. Good luck!

Danielle - Your recipe was a hit! I linked back to your blog. I'll change it to a link to your post.

Lydia - Thanks for the tip!!

Emily said...

I've never had oxtail, but I think I'd try it.
Everyone is using kumquats lately! I must do the same.

Peter M said...

Toni, consider blogging 'sharing' your food.

I've had oxtail, never cooked with it though.

The dish sounds yum and I'd scramble for seconds.

glamah16 said...

I love oxtails. The first meal I ever made for my sweetie was oxtails cooked for 8 hours in a slow cooker with red wine.He loved it and got on his knees and kissed me.He was hooked from that point on. The kumquat twist looks great.

SteamyKitchen said...

love the recipe idea - I'm going to be experimenting with kumquats now!

Toni said...

Emiline - I think that's because they have a short season, and it's now!

Peter - If that's the case, then why is my fridge so full? ;-)

I admit that oxtail isn't usually the first thing that leaps to mind when trying to figure out what's for dinner, but it's beef. Good for those Canadian winters!

Glamah, How cool is that!!! I'll remember that story if I ever meet someone! ;-0

Jaden - Can't wait to see what you come up with!!

Nora B. said...

Oh Toni, what an adventure for this dish, but it sounds like it was worth it. I would never have thought of pairing oxtail with kumquat, but I can see why they make a good pair. The acidity from the kumquat helps to balance out the richness of the oxtial. Delicious!

I hope that your two burnt pots could was saved.

Have a nice weekend (& hopefully more predictable weather...),

Toni said...

Nora - The credit for this idea goes to Danielle over at Habeas Brulee. I thought it was genius when I saw it, and that was confirmed by the first bite!

The 2 pots are fully restored, thank you! And our weather continues to be unpredictable. Tomorrow maybe less rain, Sunday maybe more. It is looking quite green around here these days!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

My dad used to cook a mean oxtail stew years ago (and I mean YEARS!)... but in those days, kumquats were so unknown in these parts, that just saying 'kumquat' would have probably got me hauled off to church or the police station, or both... But seeing as we now live in more enlightened times, I'm tempted to give this a go!

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Now, who woulda thunk? Kumquats and oxtail! Bourdain would poop his pants! Great blog, just found you! I've only had candied kumquats, but I love citrus with beef...

anya said...

It's easier for me (both mentally and emotionally) to deal with failures (*sigh*) in my kitchen when I think it can happen to the best of us. :) When I roasted chestnuts recently, I nearly got a of the chestnuts popped up so hard...I'm still recovering...:)

Great post and a recipe!

Unknown said...

Forkful - Kumquat! Kumquat! Kumquat! Say it with me...Kumquat!!! Now you can go out and buy some and give it a go -- You won't regret it! ;-)

Catherine - Thanks for stopping by! I personally don't like candied kumquats, so don't think of them when you think of this dish! And I hope you stop by again - there are some very interesting people here!

Anya - I guess kitchens can be dangerous places for all of us! I've read so many stories on so many wonderful blogs about failures that it made me laugh when all of this happened to me! Isn't community great?

Chris said...

I wish I didn't understand single girl cooking...hrumph!
This is a lovely looking recipe! I have never eaten Oxtail, or kumquats...I know, I know!

Toni said...

Chris - Well, you obviously work someplace where people will scarf down all those delectable things you bake!!! I know I'd be big as a house if I worked with you!!!

Anonymous said...

This just looks ridiculously good!!! Honestly, wow.

Kalyn Denny said...

This sounds really interesting. I've never cooked oxtails or kumquats either one. So I'm trying to imagine the flavor, and I'm imagining it would taste wonderful!

Anna (Morsels and Musings) said...

i feel for you. i recently had the same problem: i was making some ginger syrup and decided to go read over some blogs. next thing i knew there was smoke and burnt toffee all over my stove.
unfortunately mine was unrecoverable. sigh.
glad yours turned out well in the end.

Toni said...

Lia - Lip smacking good, in fact!

Kalyn - Actually oxtail is just a cheaper cut of beef. And kumquats? Well.....citrus. That's the easiest way to describe them. South Beach friendly, though!

Anna - Sorry to hear about that ginger syrup! Bummer....I'll bet it was going to be part of something amazing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Toni!

Yay, someone else that uses a pressure cooker and cooks oxtail! You almost sound Cuban! LOL!
Just last night I took a whole bunch of pictures of all the different pressure cookers I have. I love cooking with that thing. Makes life (and tending to emails) much easier! :)

Despite the evaporation of water (which Im surprised), your meal looked great. I don't think I've ever seen kumquat at any of my grocery stores.

Thanks for your lyrical story! :)

Anonymous said...

My co-worker just gave me a bag of kumquats off her tree. Guess what we'll be making!
BTW- our first cooking video is up!

Toni said...

Brenda - I think in another life I was Cuban! ;-)

I don't use pressure cookers enough, obviously. I should use this one more often and figure out just how long I need to cook things. I don't like scrubbing the pot!! ;-)

W.O.R.C. - I have kumquat envy! I should probably try to grow them here. I have a tiny yard, and there are some large trees around me. But a kumquat tree would be so lovely!

test it comm said...

The ox tails and kumquats both sound interesting. I will have to look for them both.

Unknown said...

I have never seen oxtail locally and this sounds interesting.

I was single a long time, so I understand...

Susan G said...

So, email can be hazardous to your cookware's health? I am nervous enough about using the pressure cooker that I don't leave the kitchen. Too many teakettles have bit the dust when the water boils away, and once I left a pot at full boil and went to work: old Farberware, bottom melted to the burner and separated from the pot, house smelled like smoke for a while (I remembered it in the early afternoon, lucky the house didn't melt down too).

Toni said...

Kevin and Mimi - I found oxtail at a Vietnamese grocery store. I didn't see them at any of the major food stores, and I didn't ask for them at Whole Foods, figuring I'd be plunking down a small fortune for a cow's tail! The best deal on kumquats were at Trader Joe's. I don't know if either of you have one of them, but they're seasonal, and we're a little ahead of you both.

And thanks, Mimi - I know you understand...

Susan - Ah, the perils of being a space cadet! I've left the outdoor barbecue on and gone to work, remembered it at lunch time, and flew home to find everything still standing. Whew!

Anonymous said...

what beautiful buildings! So shiny and full of gorgeous reflections. I can completely understand why you'd want to walk down there. So pretty. I missed this recipe, thanks for drawing my attention to it. It does sound fantastic! I've been on a burning-things-in-the-kitchen run too. I like blaming it on Mercury. That makes me feel better for some silly reason :-)

tigerfish said...

Sounds a unique combi altogether. The kumquat and the oxtail. Love all the "rings" in your dish!

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi! Interesting combination~oxtail and kumquats. But I am filipino~ I am used to weird fusion of ingredients hehehe. Ever tried kare-kare? It's oxtail with peanut butter sauce! Creamy, oily, sinful and like all bad things:delicious!