Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Oxtail Project concludes

My encounter with oxtails is nearly over. My conclusion? They are a pain in the neck (literally!). Saturday of course I started the broth (has to be called broth since meat was included, stock is only bones as I understand it). Saturday night I pulled out the oxtails and cleaned off the meat, that was the pain in the neck. Tedious. Very tedious. Then I put all the bones and cartilage back in the pot and simmered it overnight. Sunday I did the first level of straining, put the meat back in and put the pot in the fridge so the fat could rise and harden (including off of the meat). Monday was consomme day. I skimmed the broth, strained it again, then reduced it until it was tasty. Then I strained it again, let it cool some, and tackled the "raft" to clarify it. We'd done that in class last week so I hoped that I could pull it off successfully (as I never had before). With Dave carefully documenting every step with photos, I got a real raft and -- perfectly crystal clear consomme! I also turned the oxtail meat into "sunday supper oxtail patties" that I would use in the soup I was planning. Tuesday, last night, we finally ate an oxtail-based dish. I blanched leaves of Savoy cabbage (nice and mild) and wrapped the oxtail patties in them. Put those in a 300-degree oven for 20 minutes. Heated a few cups of the (now jellied) consomme. Cut some carrots into a few tablespoons of brunoise and nuked them for about a minute until tender. Cut some leek into fine julienne and fried it for frizzled leeks. Then the assembly: - wrapped oxtail bundle into the bottom of a white soup plate - ladle consomme around it, not covering it - sprinkle carrot on top of bundle and in consomme - pile frizzled leeks on top of bundle - serve What would I do differently if I were ever to do this again? Make the bundles bite-sized, as cutting up the 1x3" bundle in a bowl of soup was kind of awkward. But it tasted great -- not quite like the dish I had 15 years ago that I was trying to recreate, but good and visually impressive as well.

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