WINE-BRAISED OXTAILS WITH FENNEL

TIME: 2 HOURS, PLUS AT LEAST 1 HOUR MARINATING

YIELD: 6 TO 8 SERVINGS

Oxtails make for a particularly succulent stew because the bones release rich, brawny-flavored marrow while they cook. Here the oxtails are prepared with fennel, carrots, and herbs, which add depth, while a garnish of lemon zest and chopped parsley brightens everything just before serving. I like to serve oxtails still on the bones, since I really love gnawing off the meat. But it is messy, so make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand. Or for something more elegant, make the stew ahead and pull the meat off the bones before serving. That will make it much fork-friendlier. Serve it with something to soak up all the good sauce, like Garlic Rice (this page), mashed potatoes (see this page), or crusty bread.

Note that oxtails are generally sold already sliced crosswise into 1- to 2-inch pieces. The thickness doesn’t really matter in terms of cooking, so buy whatever is available. However, if your butcher will cut the oxtails to order, ask for 1-inch slices, which are easier to pick up and eat than larger chunks.

INGREDIENTS:

2½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground allspice

4 to 5 pounds beef oxtails, patted dry

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

3 leeks (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved, and thinly sliced (save the fronds and chop them for garnish)

2 carrots, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

1 tablespoon tomato paste

6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine

5 sprigs fresh parsley, plus ¼ cup chopped leaves

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

Grated zest of 1 lemon

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, and allspice. Rub the mixture all over the oxtails. Place them in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Using the sauté function, heat the oil in the pressure cooker (or do this in a skillet over high heat). Add as many oxtails as you can fit in a single layer without overcrowding. Sear, turning them occasionally, until the meat is uniformly golden brown all over, including the sides, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate; repeat until you’ve browned all of the oxtails.
  3. Add the leeks, fennel, and a pinch of salt to the drippings in the pressure cooker (or skillet), and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. If the pot or pan looks dry, add a little more oil. Add the carrots and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and two-thirds of the garlic (save the rest for the garnish), and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Pour the wine into the pot (or skillet). Tie the parsley, rosemary, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine and drop the bundle into the wine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over medium heat until the liquid has reduced by half, about 15 minutes. (If you used a skillet, scrape the mixture into the pressure cooker.) Add the oxtails to the pressure cooker, cover, and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  5. Transfer the oxtails to a plate. Simmer the sauce on the sauté function until it thickens slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Oxtails release a lot of fat. If you like, you can use a fat separator to degrease the sauce, or let it settle and spoon off the fat from the top. Discard the herb bundle.
  6. Toss the oxtails with some of the sauce. Taste, and adjust the seasonings if necessary. In a small bowl, toss together the chopped parsley, remaining garlic, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt. Scatter the mixture over the oxtails and then garnish with the fennel fronds before serving.

COOK IT SLOW

Nestle the oxtails in among the vegetables, making sure the meat is mostly covered. Cook on high for 7 to 8 hours or low for 10 to 12 hours.

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