Cooking with Gas (and Whiskey?)

A cooked hot dog garnished with mustard.Mother liked to find new recipes, but if she found one she liked, watch out.  She would make it over and over again until we were ready to scream.  Most of her recipes were very simple. Looking back, I sometimes wonder if they were simple so that she could have more time to focus on having a drink or two while cooking.

A big favorite of hers that my sister continues to make is the Hot Dog and Mashed Potato dish.  Slice several hot dogs down the middle and place mashed potatoes in them.  Top each hot dog and mashed potato with a slice of American cheese and place them in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

From somewhere, our mother got the Ox-tail stew recipe printed below.  She made it often. So often (and she was so bad at preparing it) that I have never had Ox-tails since I got away from her.

Most of the time, I do not remember her meals but rather her manner of serving them.  She would set only three plates for my sister, my dad and me.  Then she would stand over us waiting for someone to move wrong and she would pounce.  She would start harping on something one (or sometimes all) of us had done.  She would continue yelling about this transgression until the meal was over.  No wonder my sister and I eat so fast!

Oxtail Stew Recipe

We serve the oxtails with the bone-in, though if you want you can easily remove the bones from the meat before serving.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs oxtails with separated joints
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • 2 cups of red wine
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peel still on
  • One bay leaf
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Parsley
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch segments, large pieces also cut lengthwise
  • 2 parsnips, cut into 1-inch segments, large pieces also cut lengthwise
  • 2 turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Pat dry oxtails with paper towels.
  • Sprinkle oxtails all over with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium to medium high heat in a 6-quart Dutch oven.
  • Working in batches, and not crowding the pan, sear the oxtails in hot pan on all sides until golden brown.
  • Use tongs to remove oxtails to a plate, setting aside.
  • Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery to the pan.
  • Cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent.
  • Add the oxtails back to the pan.
  • Add the whole garlic cloves, the stock and wine.
  • Add bay leaf, thyme, and half a teaspoon of salt.
  • Bring to simmer.
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Cover and cook for 3 hours, until meat is fork tender.
  • One hour before the meat is done, heat oven on 350°F.
  • Toss carrots, parsnips, and turnips in olive oil in a roasting pan.
  • Sprinkle well with salt and pepper.
  • Roast vegetables for 1 hour, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
  • When meat is tender, remove oxtails from the cooking liquid. Either skim the fat off the top with a spoon, use a fat separator to remove the fat, or chill the cooking liquid for several hours so that the fat solidifies, making it easier to remove.
  • If you are making ahead, at this point you can just put the stew in the refrigerator (let come to room temp first), with the oxtails still in it, and let it chill over night. The next day, scrape off the fat, reheat and then remove the meat from the dish.
  • Pour the cooking liquid through a mesh strainer into a bowl, using a rubber spatula to press against the vegetable solids caught in the strainer. Discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and simmer until reduced by half.  Then add back in the oxtails, and add the roasted vegetables to the pan.  Heat on low heat for half an hour for the flavors to meld.  Add some chopped parsley before serving.

Serves 4-6.

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