You always want to buy oxtails when they are most tender. That would be in the Spring after a long Winters rest from fly swatting. All kidding aside this is slow food. You will not be putting this on the table thirty minutes after you turn on the stove but it isn't super labor intensive or anything you have to watch over and stir either. This is a dish you will make because you want to, it is sort of like spending a languid day at a summer house where you have really done nothing the entire day and don't care. The only little things you did do were little prep jobs for the nights casual, and very delicious dinner. You will cook this because you love to cook and you have set up your day to make all the necessary little steps happen for what is the only reason you got out of bed, dinner. A fire is burning in the fire place, the kids are getting along and you take your opportunity to cook slow and for the sheer joy of cooking. —thirschfeld
- Serves 4
- For cardamom broth
2 1/2 pounds
oxtails. get the meaty parts not thin little bits
small carrot, peeled and sliced
large celery stick, sliced
garlic head, spit across the bulbs
green carodamom, pods, cracked
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- For the sweet potatoes
big sweet potatoes, 1 1/2 lbs. after peeled weight, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 1/2 teaspoons
vanilla bean, split, seeds scrappped
unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of ground cardamom
minced parsley for garnish
- Season the oxtails with salt. Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sear the oxtails on all sides until they are very richly browned and smell like the best cheeseburger ever.
- Remove the oxtails to a plate and add the carrot, onion and the celery to the pan. Cook them until they begin to brown.
- Add the garlic, cardamom and the oxtails back to the pan and then add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and season it with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, and skim the broth of all the foam and grey matter.
- Let the soup lazily bubble until the oxtails are tender but not flavorless.
- Remove the oxtails from the broth. Strain the broth into a container and put it in the fridge to cool so the fat congeals. After it congeals skim the fat off the top and discard it.
- Once the oxtails are cool enough to handle, and just cool enough if the cool to much they are really hard to pick, pick the meaty little nuggets out by pushing the meat from one end with your pinky and popping it out, fat free, from the other side. Wrap the meat and cool it in the fridge. You should have 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potato chunks into a large bowl and toss them to coat with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Season them with salt and white pepper. Place then on a sheet tray and pop them into the oven.
- Place a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the defatted broth and the the oxtail meat. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. In the end you end you want to have about 1 1/2 cups of broth so that it is the right intensity.
- After thirty minutes in the oven check the potatoes. If they are soft and caramelized then you are good to go. It depends on the sweet potato, sometimes they take longer to roast so if they are not soft put them back into the oven and bake them another 15 to 30 minutes.
- When the sweet potatoes are done place them in a bowl and smash them till smooth, a potato masher works good. Add the honey, butter, vanilla seed and the ground cardamom. Stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and white pepper.
- Place a scoop of potatoes into a bowl and then top with oxtail and ladle some cardamom broth around the edges. Parsley for garnish and serve.