Oxtail Ragu à la Cooky Cat Mode
We have to just say at the outset . . . what's with the price of oxtails? At six bucks per pound it's a very pricey dish. When you factor the more than 50% bone, that's getting to be the price of a pretty decent steak. But, if you love oxtails, then you must pay the piper. And, thank all those Big Apple Downtown foodies for driving the price up to the stratosphere. We hope you bouches are extremely amused. That is, until the next "must have" item is discovered. Enough.
Here is a version based on a classic Jamaican recipe. We modified it a bit to add mas sabor. That is, we flavored the cooking oil with annatto and added a sofrito.
Oxtail Ragu à la Cooky Cat Mode
— 3 lbs Oxtails (one oxtail will do it), trimmed of fat.
Have the butcher cut the oxtails at the joint with a knife. You may like a smaller cut/more pieces, in which case it will be cut with a band saw. We don't like the latter cut because there will be odd bone bits from that method.
— 4 T olive or other good oil
— 2T Annatto seeds (achiote)
— 1/2 Cup Sofrito*
—1/2 lb Carrot, thinly sliced
—1 large Onion, coarse chopped
—1 Scotch Bonnet Pepper, left whole or deseeded. (Not the same as Habanero peppers) Be sure to handle chili carefully, muy caliente.
—4 cups Water (or 3 cups water and 1 cup beef stock)
—3-4 fresh Thyme sprigs, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
—1/4 teaspoon ground Allspice
—2 Plum Tomatoes coarse chopped, or 2 tablespoons Tomato paste
—Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
—1 Bay leaf, crumbled
—1 large can Broad (Fava) Beans (or Lima Beans.) If using dried beans add at the start.
*Sofrito (Make 3-4 Cups)
—1 small bunch Cilantro, rough chopped. If you have the roots, use them.
— 3-4 leaves Culantro**, rough chopped (Culantro per Daisy Martinez is like Cilantro X10)
—Aji Dulce***, chopped
—White Onion, chopped
—Green Frying Peppers, chopped
—18 cloves Fresh Garlic
Process all Sofrito ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste. Set aside extra Sofrito for other uses (soups and stews). Store in freezer in 1/2 Cup portions.
**Culantro at grocery stores catering to Hispanic tastes.
***Aji Dulce are small green chilis with a small quotient of heat. Looks like habanero, but distinctly different; not nearly as hot.
—Large Potato in chunks
—Carrot cut into large pieces
—Small whole Onions
—Chayote cut into large pieces
—Plaintain, large pieces (Green or ripe)
—Your choice other root vegetables: Yam, Sweet Potato, Yucca, see this link for other alternatives
—NOTE: Obviously, we are suggesting you add (or not) whatever elements you may want to augment this dish.
Add optional ingredients after oxtails are tender and cook until done.
Spinners / Flour Dumplings
—1 cup all-purpose flour
—1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix to form a stiff paste. Knead until smooth. Break off small pieces (small walnut size) and roll between hands to form tubular shapes with pointy ends, about 3-4 inches long. Add to stew after oxtails are tender along with other optional vegetables; cook in for an additional 20 minutes. The spinners will tend to thicken the sauce, so pay attention. Alternatively, a no-fail option would be to boil the spinners to doneness in salted boiling water.
Trim away the excess fat from oxtail pieces as necessary.
In a large heavy pan brown oxtail pieces, set aside.
Add 2 T annatto seeds to oil and boil over medium heat to release essence/color. Careful not to burn seeds. Remove from oil.
Saute onions until slightly browned.
Add sofrito and cook briefly.
Return oxtail pieces to pot.
Add remaining ingredients (dried beans should go in now; canned add after oxtails are tender) and water/broth.
Cover and simmer 2 hours or more until oxtails are falling off bone tender.
Add water/broth as needed. Keep it brothy to avoid sticking to bottom of pot.
Add canned beans and whatever additional vegetables and you may choose and cook until done.
Then, add hand rolled spinners and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
Serve hot with with a nice salad. And, whatever else your little darlings might like.