I know Bourdain would be disappointed in how dirty this bowl looks. Whatevs.
I found a recipe for Oxtail Ragù, and figured that even though I've never cooked oxtail myself, it couldn't be that crazy. I love pho and oxtail is a main ingredient of the broth. The fatty marrow adds tons of flavor when you slowly braise the oxtails in a broth or sauce.
I have to admit that this recipe didn't turn out to be my favorite. We found it to be way too fatty with not enough meat, but the good news is that it can be solved. I suggest that instead of just skimming the fat while still hot, let the sauce cool for a while then skim the fat layer. Furthermore, make sure that you're getting good, meaty oxtails from the butcher. I bought mine at a local Asian supermarket and wasn't really paying attention to the amount of meat on each bone. We were disappointed with what we got.
I don't regret trying out the oxtails and will certainly cook with them in the future, provided that I can obtain bigger ones.
adapted from The Kitchn
4-5 lbs oxtail pieces (about 2-3" thick)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups dry red wine
2 rosemary sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pat the meat dry with paper towels then dredge in flour, shaking off excess.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and when glistening (but not smoking!) add the oxtail pieces. Sear on all sides, about 8-10 minutes total. If your pan is not big enough, cook in batches. Overcrowding will cause the meat to steam instead of fully sear. Transfer meat to a plate.
Add the carrots, onions, and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes, until browned. Add just a tad of the wine and deglaze the pan.
To a slow cooker, add the rest of the wine, the tomatoes, and the vegetable mixture from the skillet. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Arrange the meat in the sauce and cook on high 3-4 hours. You could also do the whole thing in a large Dutch oven pot, but I don't gots one of those. :-/
When the oxtail is so tender it falls off the bone, remove it from the sauce and pull the meat off. Discard the bones and return the meat to the pot. At this point, I just skimmed the fat off the top but I recommend removing the sauce from the slow cooker, allowing to cool for an hour or so, then skimming. You can reheat quickly in a pan if needed.
Serve the ragù over pasta or polenta. We went with pasta!