John's favorite stew is made from oxtails! When we first got married it took some convincing for me to try I really had my reservations. He made me up a pot and it was actually great! Hope you give it a try, but only after you call around and get the best price!
When I was a young butcher my brother and I had a small meat packing plant in Dallas, Oregon. We mostly processed the local farmers beef cattle with a few pigs and sheep here and there. People would give us instructions on how they wanted their meat cut and invariably there would be one or two of them that did not want the tail. I would do my best to convince them of the tails outstanding qualities but often to no avail. Hence we soon had quite an inventory of oxtails in the freezer that we could not sell since we were not a federally inspected packing house. There was only one thing to do. We began to eat them. The first time I had oxtail was actually before they started piling up. Before we had officially taken over the packing house there were a few days where I was helping out. The old owner’s Grandma lived close by and every day at noon she would bring a nice big hot lunch for everyone. One day we were especially busy. We had been cutting up a storm non stop from about 5:30 that morning. When noon rolled around we were all getting really hungry. Just then Grandma rolls in with a big pot of braised oxtails over egg noodles and a huge pile of fried bread. I tell you what, nothing ever tasted so good. They have a very nice rich flavor and were as tender as can be and the fried bread was like eating doughnuts without the glaze. Grandma's braised masterpiece was an inspiration for me and my brother. Soon we were experimenting and coming up with some very nice entrees. Besides making the best stew possible they can be used to make very tasty pot pies, enchiladas, beef and noodles, beef over rice, etc. Actually they can be used in any recipe calling for shredded beef. There is a problem with oxtails however. They can be rather expensive. After you factor in the fact that they are at the very least one half bone and fat you will see that they are not a great value and maybe not a smart buy, except they are so darn good. The regular supermarket type meat departments price these meaty gems rather high and they sell. Using the oxtail to make enchiladas or a meat pie would be expensive, costing you as much as seven or eight dollars a pound for the meat. Now to my way of thinking, nothing is that good. There is a way though to get them cheap if you don’t mind making a few phone calls. Some of the wholesale and custom meat processors in the yellow pages do have oxtails at good to outstanding prices. If you can find one with the right price then you may be interested in trying one of my favorite recipes. If not please do not read any further. I do not want to be responsible for causing you any unquenchable anguish that may lead to irrational behavior.
2 pounds oxtail cut into sections*
1 large clove garlic chopped
1 large onion chopped
2 celery stalks sliced
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
2 carrots cut into chunks
1 cup frozen peas
3-4 large potatoes cut into cubes
3 oz of tomato sauce
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Water enough to cover
Flour and water for a white wash or corn starch and water.Place oxtail in pan and brown in 325 oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Then throw in pot and use a little bit of water to loosen up brown goo in the bottom of the pan and add to pot. Cover with water, add onions, garlic, celery and bell pepper and simmer for about 2 hours or until tender. Add carrots, potatoes and enough water to cover. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender. Add corn starch or white wash to thicken and season with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce and add the frozen peas.. Serves about 6.
*Oxtails when purchased from wholesalers may be whole. With a sharp knife cut through the joints.