Josh here! It's been a while since we've shared a recipe, and Leah asked me to do a special one today. We made this recently and it turned out so good it needs to be shared. This was our first time having oxtail -- beef tail, from grass-fed cattle from a local rancher--and I was surprised at how tender and flavorful it was. It tasted like a slow-cooked pot roast and was just as tender.
Slow-cooked Oxtail Stew
# 2 pounds boned oxtail pieces, excess outside fat trimmed (they look like meaty donuts where the bone is the donut hole)
# Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
# 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
# 1 large onion, chopped
# 4 cloves garlic, smashed or chopped
# 3 tablespoons tomato paste
# 20 juniper berries, crushed
# 20 allspice berries, crushed
# 1 quart beef stock (homemade makes a big difference but storebought is fine too)
# 2 yellow new potatoes, peeled quartered
# 2 stalks of celery, just the root
# Red wine to taste for deglazing
# 1 Tbs Vietnamese Chili garlic sauce
# Leeks, mushrooms, carrots, any root vegetables you have on hand
# Enough boiled egg noodles to serve alongside the stew
1. Sprinkle the oxtails with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, cast iron pot, or large frypan over medium-high heat, brown the oxtails on both sides.
2. Cook the onions and garlic in the Dutch oven for 2 minutes along with browned oxtails. Add the tomato paste, juniper, chili garlic sauce, and allspice and cook 2 minutes more. Deglaze with red wine to taste--be sure to scour up everything, those brown bits at the bottom are key to flavoring. Pour everything into a crockpot, scraping bottom of pan, and add enough beef broth to just cover the meat. Cook on high heat setting for one hour or until nicely bubbling, then drop to low and cook for 5 or 6 more hours.
3. One to two hours before dinner add the potatoes, celery root, and other veggies--I used the white part of one leek cut into half inch pieces along with sliced portabello and button mushrooms. Make sure to slice the mushrooms, if using, as thinly as possible. I decided against carrots because I didn't want the extra sweetness, but I may try them next time. I also may try a turnip because I think its bitter taste would be a nice component, though I think this would only work if you like turnips like I do.
4. Skim about a quarter inch of grease and scum off the surface about 20 minutes before serving. (You could also do this throughout cooking but I personally feel the secret to crockpot cooking is keeping the lid on and letting the steam do its magic.) Remove your quartered potatoes and mash the heck out of them. Return to crockpot and stir thoroughly to incorporate into sauce. This will thicken your sauce into a nice, slightly runny gravy.
5. Boil egg noodles, bring to al dente ("to the teeth," gives a tiny little crunch but "just done"), drain, then add to crockpot. Stir everything and kill heat, letting sit covered for about ten minutes for the noodles to soak up the sauce and cook a tad more. Serve.
For serving, you can either take the boned meat out of the pot beforehand, which will be fork tender and will come off with a spoon, and yank everything off the bone and divvy into bite size bits. Or you could leave it on the bone--some people like the marrow and leaving the bone in will make an interesting medieval-style meal. That's my preference. Provide knives, even though you don't need them as the meat will be almost like butter.