Nothing goes to waste
Based on how often a muscle is used and what not, can tell you the cooking methods needed to bring out the best flavors and experience of that particular piece. Many of our cooking traditions have developed because of this. Even now we have developed a tradition that no longer uses the entire animal. Much goes to waste or possibly to animal feed because we are enlightened. We are better than our predecessors. (sad when you think about it right?)
As we move away from certain traditions we lose so much of what brought us to where we are now. This isn’t always a good thing. When we view ourselves without the light of our own enlightenment we realize that we are actually wasteful and disrespectful.
Am I suggesting that we should make it a point to explore those things that might be markedly different than what we grew up with, solely because they are older traditions? No, I am saying that it is important when you have the opportunity to explore older traditions, to actually check them out with an open mind. You may find something that you did not expect.
With that in mind I bring you my take on oxtail soup.
The tail is a heavily worked muscle. It is not a good candidate for many of the cooking styles that we use on a daily basis. Instead it is perfect for braising. The tail not only has meat but also ligaments and tendons that bring quite a bit of gelatin and flavor to the final broth, similar to a shank but with a bit less meat. In the end you have a rich stock that is the base of a great soup or stew.
Recipe (ingredient list)
1lb or more of octail
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
8 oz mushroom
1/3 cup (pre cooking) Bulgher wheat
1 Tablespoon italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
wine or beer to deglaze (in this I used about 1/2 cup of a sour ale)
1 quart stock
Give the oxtail a hard sear then remove from pan. Add the veggies to the pan and sweat them. This can be done in stages to give the veggies room to caramelize. Add herbs to pan and then deglaze. Return the oxtail to the pan and add the stock. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or the oxtail is tender.
Remove the meat from the oxtail and chop then return to pan. Add the cooked bulgher wheat and bring up to temp. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a baguette or if you must, crackers.
Time for a pint…