Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gourmet has died, but the Braising Season Begins

...at least in the northern hemisphere, somewhat north of the Tropic of Cancer and yet south of the Arctic Circle for it is always braising season there, albeit their frozen wastes are splattered with the blubber-filled beasts who survive, or provide other not-so-blubber filled creatures with the sustenance they require, be they carnivorous, omnivorous or just blood-sucking.

But today's meal is not about blood-sucking, rather marrow-sucking. If I was a zombie [and perhaps Gourmet would come back as such], I know that I would not just focus on brains or the flesh hanging from the calcium timbers of some rib cage of an unfortunate victim. Their skeletal goo would be feasted upon and relished. There is no table-side decorum in the zombie world. It is perfectly acceptable to pick the bone up and slurp out the marrow without worrying about what the other diners would think of you. Although there are many lovely accoutrements or settings, place or fish knives, strawberry, salad, or cake forks, cream soup or melon spoons, these might be appropo at a restaurant like Daniel, but to the zombie there is no reason not to just pick up the bone, gnaw the flesh and suck out the comforting marrow of the braised meat - if only zombies had the patience to braise...

Today's post is a complete regurgitation of a recipe from Daniel Boulud's Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine book. Some people ask what 10 albums (to use the term from the ancient English) you would keep on a desert island. This is definitely one of the 10 cookbooks I would bring to a desert island, unless of course the weather was supremely tropical and long-cooking was out of the question.

Anyhow, buy the book, it's worth it for the rest of the recipes, too. Kim did a great job of foraging forward on this one

Spicy Oxtails with Pears and Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 4# oxtails, excess fat removed
  • course sea salt pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (or more)
  • 1 2" piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 Tb chili powder
  • 2 Spanish onions, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 c. dry vermouth
  • 1/4 c. light soy sauce
  • 1 Tb hoisin
  • 1 tsp red chili paste (or more)
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 Tb light brown sugar
  • 1 Tb toasted sesame seeds
  • 2# sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 4 Bosc pears, peeled,cored, finely diced
  • 2 bunches of scallions, trimmed and cut into thirds

    1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 275.
    2. In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Season the oxtails with salt and pepper and sear until golden brown on all sides - about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the oxtails to a plate and spoon off all but 1 Tb fat.
    3. Decrease the heat to medium-low and add the onions and the garlic, ginger, and chili powder. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes (do not burn chili powder). Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes.
    4. Raise the heat to medium. Deglaze the pot with vermouth and soy sauce, scraping up the bottom clingy bits. Stir in the hoisin and chili paste. Return the oxtails to the pot. Stir in 1 c. water, the sugar, and sesame seeds and bring to simmer.
    5. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven and braise for 3 hours - adding sweet potatoes and pears after 1.5 hours, and the scallions after 2 hours.


    1. So you must be referring to the non "brainitarian" zombies who accept other parts of the human anatomy as a viable food source.

      That book is on my list. Thanks!

    2. Howdy, just passing-through :-)