This blog has now been folded over into "The Left Chapter", a blog dedicated to politics, art, writing & food!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The glories of oxtail! A quick & easy Fiery Curried Oxtail Dutch Oven recipe.

The delights of Jamaican and Caribbean style oxtail have lead me to spend over a decade trying to replicate the wonderful dishes that I would smother in hot sauce and savour on lunch breaks at work...and still do. 

It is only fitting, given that along with BBQ, steak, bourbon and Indian food, oxtail is one of the foods I love most, that I would begin with an oxtail recipe!

The recipe I am sharing today is  my "quick and easy" though not short on flavour, Fiery Curried Oxtail.

First, a bit about oxtail.  

Oxtail is a truly wonderful, succulent, fatty and moist meat, if properly prepared. Originally literally describing the tail of an ox,  it now refers to the tail meat of cows either male or female.

Oxtail is widely eaten in many parts of the world, but has only recently become more popular outside of specific communities in North America. There are many different oxtail stews, soups and mains from countries as diverse as Ireland, through to South Africa, Korea and the Caribbean. 

Almost all of these are slow cooked, in that they require a cooking time of at least several hours. This is due to the fact that oxtail, while fall-off-the-bone delicious when cooked for the proper amount of time, is basically inedible if not slow cooked. The only alternative, in some recipes, is pressure cooking.

While I have tried oxtail prepared in many different ways, (I had an Irish oxtail dish at McVeigh's Pub in downtown Toronto, for example, that was heavenly), I have a particular fondness for West Indian oxtail as I am both a huge fan of West Indian food and my introduction to oxtail came from eating it at take out Caribbean restaurants in T.O. like Coconut Grove. 

As I already noted, I have spent many years trying to perfect cooking oxtail West Indian style. I have likely not succeeded!  But I have developed recipes that taste like the wonderful dishes I have eaten for so long and that inspired me. I have also developed some more complex ones that are inspired in part by other cuisines, like an Caribbean oxtail dish based on a medieval Italian pepper pot veal shank recipe. 

But for the launch of the blog I wanted to share one that anyone, virtually, could make tomorrow as long as they own a Dutch Oven and have access to oxtail and few sauces. 

Let us call this a gateway recipe to the joys of oxtail!

Fiery Curried Oxtail

Mr. Goudas' Fire in Jamaica Hot Sauce

Take a whole oxtail and separate the pieces (or buy around 2-3 lbs already fully butchered).
Coat pieces evenly with Jamaican style curry powder
Place in the bottom of a Dutch Oven
Add 1 bottle of Curry style Cooking Sauce (Grace and Mr. Goudas make them)
Add 1 cup of water
Add 1 large can of herbed and spiced diced tomatoes Add 1 beef bouillon cube
Add 1 teaspoon browning liquid
Add 1 tablespoon Worcester Sauce
Add 1-3 tablespoons Fire in Jamaica hot sauce (to taste, and, of course, feel free to use any Caribbean style hot sauce...I just happen to like this one these days as it is super fiery, super cheap and super tasty)
Add 1 tablespoon Keen's Dry Mustard
Add 1 tablespoon each salt & pepper (this is the low end...feel free to add more, of course, to taste)
Add 2 Bay leaves (remember to remove at the end)

Put the cover to the Dutch Oven on. Cook at 375 for at least 4 hours. 5-6 hours is the best range.

Every hour, remove the Dutch Oven  from the oven and stir.

After a couple of hours you may have to add liquid. You certainly will after 3-4 hours.  But don't add too much water. This dish makes its own gravy (and it is awesome) so you want it to reduce and thicken. You both want and need liquid covering the ox tail, however. It is a balance.

If you feel it is too watery at the end (unlikely...but...) just add a bit of flour to thicken.

Serve with rice or rice and peas, naan or roti style bread, beer, a heavy full bodied red wine or rum or all of the above. And extra hot sauce of course!

It is quite easy, very spicy and really delicious.

A great way to start a love affair with cooking oxtail!

If you have any questions about the ingredients, ovenware, techniques, etc, please feel free to ask in the comments. I will try to get back to you as quickly as possible. 

Oxtail Photo from wikipedia commons

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