In September, October and well into November, Nebraska weather displayed Her serene and clement self with temperatures in the 70’s, breezes not wind, and blue skies.
I rejoiced in the cinnamon, scarlet and gold foliage and the playful scenario of falling leaves.
Today, She blasts us with winter winds, and Her clouds hang low like loops of gray wool.
Temperatures drop to the teens and winds like knives drive the icy cold into the tiniest opening of my winter armor: a down vest, knee-length North Face coat, hood, knit cap and woolen gloves, long wool socks, heavy soled shoes and corduroy pants.
Now I cook. Extremes of every sort call for the mellowing effect of oxtail soup, and I cook.
Oxtail Soup Oven Temp. 275 Oven Time 2 ½ – 3 hours
Ask your home owned grocer or butcher to order oxtails, 2 packages (12) oxtails. Thaw the oxtails and bring to room temperature .
Locate your seldom used 6 qt. heavy Dutch oven ideally made of cast iron.
4-5 cups of packaged beef broth
1 8 oz. can tomatoes or 1 ½ cups of fresh cherry and grape tomatoes
1 large onion
8 stalks celery
2 red potatoes
6 pepper corns
2 Bay leaf
4 garlic cloves
3 sprigs of rosemary
Add approximately 2 Tb. Canola oil to the Dutch oven and heat to medium on top of the stove.
Pat dry the oxtails and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Dust each oxtail with flour and begin the browning process
Brown all sides and top and bottom, adding more oil if needed, and remove them from the roasting pan
While browning the meat,
Wash and clean the leeks, remove the root and the top 4 inches of the leaves, and then slice the leeks
Chop the onion coarsely
Chunk 5 carrots
Chunk 4 stalks of celery
Smash the garlic
Pour off excess oil from the roasting pan, leaving approximately one tablespoon
Sauté the leeks and onions for 3-4 minutes to soften and flavor them
Season the onions and leeks with salt and pepper
Return the oxtails to the pot.
Top them with the following ingredients:
Garlic, 4 cloves
2 bay leaves
Sprigs of rosemary
Cover and bake at 275 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours until the meat on the oxtails is fork-tender.
Cool, remove the oxtails, and strain the vegetables into a colander, preserving the liquid broth in a separate container
Press the vegetables to obtain every nourishing drop into the soup
Separate the meat from the bones
Discard the vegetables and the oxtail bones
Return the soup broth to the roasting pan and heat to a simmer
Slice the remaining carrots and celery into thin and bite-sized pieces
Peel and cube the potatoes
Add the vegetables to the broth and simmer until tender
Chop the canned tomatoes into small pieces and add them and their juice to the broth or
Sauté the fresh grape and cherry tomatoes until the skins break and the juices run
Add tomatoes to the broth
Season the broth
Add the beef from the oxtail and warm to serving temperature.
The oxtail soup will likely be eaten at once although it stores well in the refrigerator, and the flavor deepens over the next day or thereafter.
Reminder: Nebraska weather provides a good lesson in not getting what we want. In Nebraska weather extremes are unavoidable and to accept this inevitable arrangement with nature determines how much peace or aggravation we will have in our lives. I always feel more generous and serene when I accept the inevitable and eat oxtail soup.