Monday, November 14, 2016

Braised Oxtail with Mashed Potato & Swiss Chard

Rich, succulent and meltingly tender, Braised Oxtail must be one of the ultimate comfort foods. The magic of braising is that it relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down the tough connective tissue and collagens in meat, transforming the dense, well-marbled texture of oxtail until its fall-off-the-bone tender, while creating a velvety, deeply flavoured sauce along the way. From the perfect pot roast to the fragrant complexity of a classic coq au vin, there's really no food more satisfying than a well-braised dish. Slowly braising the oxtail to succulent perfection in a combination of red wine, beef broth, flour, a bouquet of aromatic herbs and chopped vegetables gives the meat a deep, dark mahogany colour and fabulous flavour, that makes this one of my favourite dishes on a cold winter day. Rich in gelatin, the bone marrow adds a sticky, glossy texture that's impossible to beat. Served over a mound of mashed potatoes and Swiss chard with a puddle of satiny sauce, this dish is a winner.

Braised Oxtail with Mashed Potato & Swiss Chard

Serves 2-4

2 1/2 lb oxtails, cut into 2-inch pieces

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup Port
1 cup tomato purée  
6 tbsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups finely sliced leeks
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot, cut 1/8-inch thick
1 bunch Swiss shard, washed with centre ribs removed  
1/2 cup chopped parsley, for garnish

Creamy Mashed Potatoes:
6 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
4 tbsp butter
salt and white pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cream

Dry and dredge the oxtails with flour until thoroughly coated, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven, and add to the pot one by one. Don’t overcrowd the pot, or you won’t get good colouring on the meat – do it in batches if necessary. Brown the oxtail on all sides, turning with tongs, until the meat has a nice colour. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate. 

Add the beef broth, wine, tomato juice and paste and whisk to combine. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, nutmeg, salt and pepper, then add the onions, celery and carrot, mixing well. Return the oxtails to the pot and immerse them well in the liquid. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the oxtails are very tender and just about falling away from the bone. 

Meanwhile, begin to prepare the mashed potatoes. 
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the potatoes. Cook for 25-30 minutes until they are fork tender, then toss into a colander to drain. In the same pot, melt 8 tablespoons of butter over medium heat then add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Pour in the cream and blend to your desired consistency and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to very low and cover to keep warm until the oxtails are ready to be served.

Once the oxtails are ready, discard the bay leaves and remove the oxtail with a slotted spoon and place on baking sheet in a 375°F oven to keep warm and to lightly brown. Using a hand immersion blender, purée the braising liquid until smooth, then return the oxtails to the pot, cover and rewarm over low heat. 

While the oxtails are warming, blanch the Swiss chard leaves in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, or until tender. Using tongs, remove the leaves from the water, drain them in a colander, and while still hot, finely chop and set aside.

To serve, spoon some mashed potato into the centre of each pre-warmed dinner plate, top with Swiss chard then crown with 2-3 oxtail on top. To finish, spoon some of the sauce around the dish and garnish with chopped parsley; serve immediately.

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