Friday, November 20, 2015

Oxtail Ragu

My grandfather was born in 1901. The women in my family tend to have babies later in life, so my ancestry moves backward quickly. The nice thing about having an older heritage is that many customs have been passed down without multiple generations to loose the details. This recipe is a great example of that.

I've been pestering my mom lately to try and remember some of the recipes that my grandfather used to make. He grew up in a small cabin in the Upper Peninsula, without power or running water. They hunted for most of their food and when they did purchase a cut of meat, they made do with every scrap. As in the case with this oxtail recipe.

If you've never had oxtail, give it a try. It is a delicious, tender section of meat. The meat falls off the bone and melts in your mouth.

The cut of the bones exposes the marrow and as it cooks it creates a bone broth which gives the dish a deep, rich flavor. 

It might be difficult locating oxtails at your supermarket. Talk to the butcher or visit a market that specialized in a wider range of meat cuts. We found ours at Great Lakes Butcher Supply.

Oxtail Ragu (pronounced Rah-gu)

2 lbs oxtail
3 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cups beef broth
1/8 tsp cinnamon
olive oil

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a crockpot set on high.

Rinse the oxtails and set them in the crockpot. Add onions, garlic, celery and cinnamon.

Cover with beef broth and a good many cranks of pepper. (I didn't have homemade beef broth so I used water and sprinkled this Orrington Farms Broth Base and Seasoning over the meat. Later I stirred it in.) After 1 hour turn the corckpot to low and cook 5 to 7 hours or until the meat falls clean off the bones.

When the meat is done remove the bones and extra fat. Skim the liquid fat off the top with a shallow spoon. Then thicken with the roux recipe below.


1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup flour

Melt butter in a small pot. Add flour gradually, whisking often. Cook until the flour turns a golden brown (almost the color of peanut butter, it's not quite done in the photograph) and you can smell a nutty scent. I add a bit of the cooking liquid to the roux pot and whisk it till smooth, then add the roux to the meat crockpot. Stir till the juices thicken like a gravy.

Serve over mashed potatoes

Rustic Mashed Potatoes

About 3 lbs redskin potatoes (I leave the skins on)
beef broth
1/2 brick cream cheese
2 tbsp butter

Boil the potatoes in broth till fork tender. Add the butter, cream cheese and salt. Whip with a hand mixer.

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