I've got a colleague in my department who is from nearby farm country, who after the break bought home an entire cow from a friend of theirs (obviously already butchered and all of that). At some point it came up that they had no idea what to do with the various organs of the cow. And if there's one thing I will not stand for, it's deliciousness like tongue, brain, heart, and other assorted innards going to waste. I can't help it, I'm Polish -- I'm genetically pre-disposed to love organ meats.
Yet I've never actually had the opportunity to cook with any of them, and I really like to learn how to cook new things. So now I'm hoping I can learn to not only make them edible, but make some halfway decent food in the process. Join me, won't you, as we begin our journey and I teach you how to cook with oxtail. Which I am not at all ashamed to admit I didn't realize was literally the tail of the cow until I got it (I mean, it makes all sorts of sense, sure, but I thought it was one of those weird old timey words that had some sort of long story behind it).
Anyway, the key to most all offal is cooking it slowly to make it tender enough to eat. And by slowly, I mean like 6-7 hours, so start this shit early if you're cooking along at home. Today I'm making an oxtail stew, based loosely on this recipe (careful though, it's an English recipe and uses the metric system. Like I'm some sort of super human who has time to translate measurements while cooking. Fuck that. Besides, measuring is for chumps. The stew has enough rosemary when I say it has enough rosemary).
First, the tail itself. Looks pretty funky, but definitely was once a tail. Or an H.R. Geiger creation.
|Seriously. This could totally be something that bursts out of a dude's chest.|
|Specifically: carrots, celery, leeks, bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and cloves.|
|Still looks like an alien, but now one that is a tasty golden brown.|
|Homemade stock. Physical evidence of my complete lack of a social life.|
|The alien baby rests in a warm bath.|
|Pictured: delicious meatstuff. Spellcheck for some reason does not recognize "meatstuff" as a valid word.|
|Hi, you can't even tell I was a creepy-looking tail only hours ago!|
|What you're preparing to eat used to be employed mainly to swat at flies on the ass of a barnyard creature.|
|Pictured: A somewhat competent-looking stew and potatoes.|
But what it any good?
Surprisingly yes, it was quite delicious. I've never had oxtail before, but it stewed up quite nice like. While I still advocate not paying attention to measurements of spices, I'd suggest using less cloves than I did. There's a hint of sophomore poetry major in mine that's not the best, but otherwise, pretty decent for my first foray into tail.
Check back later in the week as we head to Central America and make some tacos de lengua with delicious cow tongue. And this weekend: brain! Oh, the adventures we're having with lesser-used cow parts this week!