Elegant and Rich, but Surprisingly Vibrant.
I’m not fond of a lot of braised meat recipes as I find most of them to be too umami packed for my taste. As much as I enjoy the tender unctious meat, the sauce usually runs too rich for me and after a couple of bites I’m done. This is only a personal preference and I fully realize I’m in the minority here. But you’ll never see beef bourguignon or those types of dishes on my table.
Seeing as how this is the case, I decided to make some braised oxtails that I would enjoy. When it comes to braised beef dishes, I think oxtails are the king of the mountain. They have so much collagen that you don’t need much else in order to end up with a beautifully textured sauce. I first browned them well, removed them from the pot and continued with building my sauce.
Plenty of diced onions and garlic cloves went into the pot and were cooked until they started to brown. I put the oxtails back in and added chicken stock, water, toasted and roughly ground cumin seeds and dried fenugreek leaves*. I didn’t over do either of those spices. I only wanted them there for an underlying warmth. Some black pepper and a little soy sauce went in and after coming to a boil and skimming out the impurities, I covered the pot, placed it in the oven and let it cook for 2 hours. I then uncovered the pot and let if finish cooking for another hour, at which point the meat had developed a beautiful caramelized coating and the sauce was practically cooked down to nothing. I added some diced carrots for the last 20 minutes of cooking because I wanted some veggies in the mix.
I removed the oxtails, covered them in order to keep them warm, and let the sauce sit for 10 – 15 minutes. There is a lot of fat that cooks out of the oxtails and it needs to be skimmed off before proceeding. Remember that Salty Orange Cream I told you about in my Beans with Salty Orange Cream and Croutons recipe post? Well, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to use it than in this sauce. I stirred in 3 full tablespoons at this point and heated it up. When it was good and hot, I stirred in an entire bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley leaves.
The Salty Orange Cream is not sweet. Think of preserved lemons, only it’s made with oranges. It gave the sauce brightness and interest and the parsley added freshness. Both ingredients cut the richness beautifully. The sauce tasted deep and rich, but also light and bright. I garnished it with some freshly grated orange zest in order to emphasize the orange flavor and finished it off with a few more parsley leaves.
To say this was a hit with my meat lovers is a gross understatement. All of us really loved it. I served it with some turmeric rice and my High-Heat-Roasted Baby Bok Choy. And yes, this is a braised meat dish that I can fully support.