Winter calls for robust dinners. The kind you can snuggle into to warm up from the icy sunlight pouring in through the windows. Oxtail is one ingredient that will help you achieve that goal. It does require a long, slow braise; a few hours of passive cooking brings this cut of meat into submission.
- Tomato puree
- Red wine
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced
- Onion 1/2 c minced
- 1-2 Shallots minced
- Parsley 1/4 cup minced
- Sage 1/4 cup minced
- Olive oil
Set the oven to 300˚F.
Ready two pans on the stove top. One at medium heat for the oxtail. The other at medium low to sweat the aromatics. I like to use my cast iron skillet to brown meat. It does a beautiful job and holds the heat so well. Not many adjustments are necessary while cooking. The aromatics (garlic, onion, and shallot) should be added to the second pan. This should be a a pot of good size as this is the vessel all of the ingredients will braise in together. Add the herbs once the alliums have softened. Continue cooking on medium low heat.
As the oxtail pieces finish caramelizing move them to the braising pan. Add the tomato puree and stock to the pot. The cooking liquid should cover all the contents. Strain the searing pan. Return it to the heat and deglaze with the red wine. Allow this to reduce by half. Add it to the braising pot.
The ragu should be brought to a simmer. Cover it and braise in the oven for 2-2.5 hours. The tail pieces should be knife tender. Separate the meat from the bone while the pieces are still hot. It is 10x easier to take care of this in the moment. The ragu can be enjoyed immediately. It does benefit from sitting over night to let the flavors meld.
Bust out the big, bold, beautiful reds you have been stashing away in your cellar. The is a brawny meal whether it is served over pasta, polenta, or dumplings. Aglianico, Super Tuscans from Bolgheri, or middle aged Barolos are all stout red wines with naturally high acidity that match well with the meal.