Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wine-braised oxtail stew

Per Diana's request, here's the wine-braised oxtail stew recipe. It's really just a two-pot recipe, one pot to reduce the wine while in the dutch oven, you prepare the rest of the stuff. It'll take about 4.5 hours to prepare, though 3.5 hours are spent in the oven while you do other stuff like bake bread, mash potatoes, and mix a salad. Get the wine going first, then chop your vegetables for maximum time efficiency.

6 lbs oxtail
2 bottles dry red wine (I used a burgundy... yum!)
3 tbsp butter
2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
2 medium leeks, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
5 shallots, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley stems
3 bay leaves
5 sprigs fresh thyme
4 cups beef broth
coarse salt & pepper

In a 4-6 quart pot, reduce the wine to approximately half. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sprinkle salt and pepper on the oxtail. Place 2 tbsp butter in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, and brown all sides of the oxtail pieces, transferring to a large bowl as they become browned. Add the last tbsp butter to the dutch oven, and saute all the coarsely chopped vegetables until they're soft and tender. Place the oxtail in one layer on top of the vegetables. Set the parsley stems, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs on top of the oxtail. Pour the wine over the oxtail. Add the beef broth until the bones are just covered. Bring the liquid to a boil, place the lid on the dutch oven, then set it in the oven for 3 to 3.5 hours, till the meat is tender, but not quite falling off the bone.

Remove from oven. Remove the oxtail from the dutch oven and set aside in a large bowl. Strain the liquid and vegetable mixture through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to get all the juices out. Discard the solids. Return the liquids to the dutch oven and reduce to about 1.5 cups of liquid.

Serve the oxtail and sauce with mashed potatoes. I did dirty red garlic mashed potatoes. It was a hit.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Birds, beets, beans, chocolate bread pudding, and buying big appliances

October has been an incredibly busy month, including getting sick, participating in the inaugural meeting of WRAPSC, the Walkable Rotating Assigned Potluck Supper Club that had a Cowboy theme, settling the big case I'd been working on for the past year, setting on the Indian theme for the second meeting of WRAPSC (which I'm hosting), Canadian Thanksgiving with a 27 lb bird (pictured to the left with a 15 month old girl, Katherine), coordinating carpenters to build a new porch, electrician to install a new electrical panel, and contractors to reside out house, attempting to perfect beans from scratch, and hosting out-of-town guests (which includes cooking three squares a day). Oh, and all that cooking and doing on a standard 4 burner gas range by GE. Matt doesn't see the value of the 44" 6-burner, dual fuel, double convection oven, with separate broiler oven wine-colored enamel range. But he's not the one who does all the cooking around here. So he has conceded that the matching mega Vent-a-hood that comes with it would mean he would no longer have to come into a smoky kitchen, and that the nifty counter-depth fridge (also matching) would mean no one would ever have to reach way back into the depths to find missing leftovers or olives or whatever.

But I digress. People have been asking for recipes... here's one in its finest glory.

Pistachio Chocolate Bread Pudding (sorry, no photos... it got eaten too quickly)
Serves 8-10


  • 1/2 pound French or Italian bread (approx. 1/2 loaf), cubed
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons pistachio extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, grated
  • 1/2 cup roasted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped
  • Whipped cream with pinch of sugar and a couple drops of pistachio extract (optional)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the bread in a 9" x 6" dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, and liqueur. Using another bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and mix well. Add the sugar mixture to the milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and pistachio extract, and cinnamon to the beaten eggs. Combine the egg mixture to the milk mixture and mix well.

Stir the grated chocolate into the mixture. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread in the pan. Let the mixture stand, stirring occasionally for 10-20 minutes or until bread absorbs most of the milk mixture. Sprinkle chopped pistachios over the mixture. Bake pudding for 50 minutes or until set. Check pudding by inserting a knife through the middle and it should come out clean

Serve the pudding warm, or refrigerate and serve chilled with whipped cream if desired.