Even though chili is what halloween is all about, I have already made chili twice in the past several months. So, I didn't even think of making it really. Instead, I decided to try some oxtail soup. I love oxtail soup. I have had it lots of times, but this is the first time I have made it. SO good.
I have to admit, I thought oxen were some sort of special animal. Turns out, they are just cows. Let me break it down for you US style (wikipedia).
-cattle: kind of the general name for what we call "cow"
-bull: intact adult male
-cow: adult female who has had a calf
-heifer: female who has not had a calf and is under three years of age
-calf: young male or female cattle (as they get older they are called weaners, then yearlings)
-steer: castrated male
-ox: a castrated male kept for draft purposes (sometimes a female or bull will be kept for this too).
What is a draft animal? Well, ever played Oregon trail? Remember the oxen that pulled your wagon? Yeah, draft animals do stuff like that. You keep them around to be useful instead of to eat. However, we still eat their tails??? Kind of rude.
Well, traditionally, these oxtail soups were made from tails of ox. But now, oxtail just refers to the tail of cattle. Some people think the oxtails from ox (older, working cattle) are better because the have more flavor and muscle and whatnot. But, I am sure I couldn't tell one way or the other.
I got my oxtail from Whole Foods. I checked several other places with no luck. They showed me the entire tail (before cutting it), when I was ordering it. Pretty cool. I mean, it looks like a big fat tail without hair. Kind of awesome.
I really love this soup. I am a broth fanatic. I could eat it every day. And the oxtail really does give the broth a delicious and interesting flavor so different from your typical beef broth. And the soup is served with a squeeze of lemon juice, which for me, seriously brings the whole thing together.
PS: Anyone (Pioneer Woman included) please feel free to correct me on my cattle lesson. I know nothing more than what wikipedia tells me.
slightly adapted from Joy of Cooking
Heat in a soup pot:
2 tbsp olive oil
Add and brown:
2 lbs oxtails, 2-inch sections
1/2 cup sliced onion
8 cups water
1.5 tsp salt
4 whole black peppercorns
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, partially uncovered, about 4.5 hours. Add water as necessary to keep the meat covered. Strain the stock and chill, then remove the fat. If desired, remove the meat from the bones and dice. To serve, reheat the stock and add:
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup pearled barley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Brown in a skillet:
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
Add and stir until blended:
2 tbsp butter
Slowly add to the stock, then add the reserved meat. Season with:
Salt and pepper, to taste
Serve soup with:
(Servings: 4, Prep time: 5 hours, Cook time: 1 hour, Difficulty: Easy)
Shanon (taste): 9/10
Scot (taste): 8/10
Dishwashing Effort: 3/5