OK, I know I’ve lost you just with the word oxtail. But hang with me, please? Because this. is. delicious.
I’ll admit that usually with Secret Recipe Club I lean toward baking. I don’t have to cook dinner during the school year because we can eat in the dining hall. But this month I was assigned An Italian Cooking in the Midwest. And she makes real Italian food, y’all. Authentico. The author, PolaM, is indeed an actual Italian working on her PhD here in the American Midwest.
I had to research oxtail because I’ve never, ever made it before. It’s just the cow’s tail, chopped up. Yep. Just what it sounds like. The cut is very affordable and I was able to find it at Publix already out in the case. The bones in the tail have a lot of gelatin, which contributes to the richness of the stew, although you probably want to spoon off a little of it before serving. Some sites recommended I even refrigerate the stew overnight and skim off the fat easily, but my foodie friend pretty much promised to disown me if I did, saying that is what makes it so good.
I used my pressure cooker since that is what Pola did, but you could also do this in a slow cooker with the same results, I think. Just sear the meat beforehand and dump it in there, then let it cook for a long time. I would think 8-10 hours on low.
6 stalks celery, sliced, divided in half (plus some of the inner leaves)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 bay leaves
1 c. beef broth
1/4 c. red wine
1 29 oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. short pasta
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Sear the oxtail on all sides; remove to a plate.
Add carrots, onion, and half the sliced celery to the pressure cooker and reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with cloves and pinch of salt and add bay leaves.
When the onions are starting to turn translucent, add the red wine. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until most of the wine has evaporated.
Add meat back into the pan, then pour in beef broth and tomato sauce.
Close the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. (Your knob thingy should be gently rocking. Yep, that's the technical terminology.) Cook 1 1/2 hours, then remove from heat and cool until the pressure releases.
Use a ladle to remove some of the lighter liquid on top of the stew - that is the gelatinous broth. Take off about three ladle-fulls. Stir in remaining sliced celery.
Boil pasta in well-salted water. Drain; mix sauce into pasta and serve.
If you use gluten-free pasta or serve as a stew, this is gluten-free as well as dairy-free. You could also serve over rice.
To go along with the stew, I wanted to try out Pola’s Sun-dried Tomato Bread. Then I looked and saw it had to rise for 4-8 hours. So I added some more yeast and hoped it would move things along quicker. It may not be as authentic, but it worked and was tasty.
This is the kind of bread you just tear off chunks of and dip it right into the delicious stew.
2 tsp. bread machine or instant yeast (also known as rapid-rise or quick-rise)
1 1/2 c. very warm (but not hot) water
1/4 c. sliced sun-dried tomatoes (the kind preserved in oil)
1 tsp. salt
Add yeast to the warm water and let sit for a few minutes.
In the bowl to a stand mixer, add flour, oregano, and salt. Stir to combine.
Add the water-yeast mixture and knead for 5 minutes - that's speed 2 on a stand mixer. You can do it by hand also. You want a dough that is soft but not sticky. Add more water or flour if needed - in very small increments.
Turn dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
Drain the tomatoes and then knead into the dough. Press the dough into a rectangle and roll toward you, then connect the ends to make a circle, pinching together to seal. Place on a baking sheet or stone, cover again, and let rise 20-30 minutes.
Preheat over to 450. Bake 25-35 minutes, until dough is brown and the bread sounds hollow when you knock on it.