This meal came about at a good time, when our GREAT friend Tommy Eskew was making his presence felt in the BK. We had eaten a few good meals around, seen some great music (Gabriel Alegria @ Tutuma Social Club — get you some) and had an overall wonderful time, accompanied by the one and only Jonny Salud along the way. The only thing left was to cook up.
I had been in Connecticut the day before helping out at the Dressing Room, doing a special tasting for Sam Kass, the Obama’s personal chef at the White House, and Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary. For the tasting, I made some fresh pappardelle pasta, and took the extra pasta dough back to Brooklyn to use while Tommy was in town. Oxtail had been on my mind for a while (neck to tail eating!) and I figured it would be more or less dope braised and served as a pasta sauce. I’d recently read that Batali’s oxtail pasta at Babbo had been ranked by some mag or another as the ‘best pasta in the world’, so I thought it was time to one-up him.
Very importantly, this was Sunday, and Johhny, Tommy, Rachel and I had some New Orleans reminiscing to do courtesy of that WHO DAT….watching the Saints and sipping Abitas at the bar down the road. Another reason a braise is great, you can set it and forget it at home, come back in a few hours and it’s lusciousness in a pot…especially if you don’t have to worry about the pot balancing between two burners and rush home in the 4th quarter to check on it! Anyway, here’s the recipe. Let deliciousness ensue.
Note: I guess I haven’t mentioned this, but most of the recipes here, since we’re cooking for two, serve 2 or 3 (we eat a lot, but still usually have leftovers). This served 6 pretty well, with a side of sauteed kale and some bread.
For the sauce:
2 lbs fresh oxtail, cut into 1 – 2 inch pieces
1 1/2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
6 canned whole peeled tomatoes, diced (plus some of the tomato juice)
small glass of red wine
1 1/2 qt veal stock (or chicken stock, or water)
a few sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf
Butter and Parmesean cheese (for finishing)
8oz good ricotta cheeze
1/4 c grated parmesean
1 sprig picked thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon
For the Kale:
1 large bunch Kale
Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 clove garlic, finely diced
For the sauce: Coat a dutch oven or saucepot (whatever you’re making the braise in) with olive oil and heat. Season the oxtail pieces and brown all around in the pan; remove. Put your minced onion and carrot in the pan and sweat out slowly, until the onion begins to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, and deglaze with the wine. Add your tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and oxtails into the pot, and enough stock (or water) to nearly cover the oxtail. Bring this to a boil, them reduce to a very low simmer, just above a steam, so a bubble is popping open only every few seconds. Cover, and let cook for 2+ hours (roughly a Saints game), or until the meat is nearly falling off the bone. Basically get it as tender and delicious as possible.
In our case, we set the pot and left the house to watch the Saints game around the corner, only briefly worrying about the contents of the pot wobbling their way to the floor.
When the oxtail is ready, remove the pieces from the pot, and turn up the heat so the liquid begins to reduce (skim any excess fat from the top of the sauce, though a little left is alright). When the meat is cool enough, remove all meat from the bones with your fingers, shredding it into small pieces. When the liquid is just about the proper consistency, add the meat back in and keep warm.
For the Kale:
Toss the garlic in a large saute pan with some olive oil over medium heat. Add the kale, and season with salt and pepper. Place a lid on the pan (it’s okay if it doesn’t exactly fit) and let the kale saute/steam for a few minutes, until glistening and cooked through (with only a slight bite, depending on your taste). Add a dash of red pepper flakes to the pan and toss. Squeeze a squirt of lemon juice in, and eat.
Mix all the ingredients under the ricotta section together, adding a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
I happened to have fresh-made pasta on hand, but this would work with any broad-noodle dried pasta (pappardelle being my choice) or with others such as rigatone or gnocchi.
Cook your pasta until it is done to your liking (just al dente for me). In one pan have some of the sauce heating. Place your pasta in the sauce pan and toss together until they’ve gotten to know each other. Add a bit of butter, a slick of olive oil, and a good grating of Parmesan cheese. Toss again and plate, with more cheese and some pepper on top. On each portion, put a dollop of your ricotta mixture, and a little chopped parsley or some thyme leaves for green-ness (if you wish). Serve the pasta and kale with your favorite crusty mopping bread, and wine or beer.