Browning the oxtails
In goes the rest: red wine, broth, vegetables, fresh herbs
Thanks for your recommendations on a Le Creuset christening dish! I decided to make oxtail, after C's tip and spying a Jamaican Oxtail recipe in NYT.
Growing up, I was familiar with the Korean version of oxtail soup - a light broth flavored by the rich bone of the oxtail. My mom would have us flavor the meat with a dip of soy sauce, scallions, some other ingredients I don't recall. The meat fell off the bone, and the cartilage on the end of the bone was chewy.
The recipe below is a mishmash that doesn't squarely fit into any one cuisine - the bell pepper is Jamaican, the red wine Spanish, the ginger Asian. And it is undoubtedly the best stew I have ever made-which doesn't say much given my limited repertoire. But it gave me instant childhood flashbacks, it was that good.
If you haven't tried oxtail, you should. Throwing a few chopped vegetables in a pot is easy, and the flavor obscures the minimal effort you put in to cooking. Try it! You may never enjoy ordinary beef stew the same way again.
Oxtail (2 large, 2 small)
A bunch of fresh parsley and thyme
Bell pepper, half each of yellow and orange, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
A handful of small carrots, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
About 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Broth (I used low-sodium chicken broth)
 Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in your cast iron pot at medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add your oxtail and brown the meat on all sides. This takes a few minutes. Let the meat get golden brown. Transfer the meat to a plate.
 To your pot, add your garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is semi-transluscent, a few minutes. Add the rest of your chopped vegetables. Stir that around a bit, maybe for another minute or so. Add your herbs.
 Return the oxtail to the pot. Add broth and almost an equal part red wine, just until your oxtail is covered. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 hours, or until the oxtail meat falls off the bone.
I was surprised to find Whole Foods didn't have any oxtail. It turns out they had simply run out, so I ran over to Mitsuwa to find a neatly wrapped package of oxtail, just right for a two-quart vessel. You should be able to find oxtail, if not in your chain grocery store, then in a so-called ethnic market.
The bell pepper surprised me in how much flavor and aroma it emitted. Without it, this might have been a more straightforward stew (meat + red wine). You can experiment and try adding new ingredients, knowing it will soften and mellow after a long, slow cook.
The ingredient portions are what I eyeballed to fit inside my pot. You probably would want to scale up for anything bigger than two quarts.
The longer you cook meat on the bone, the better the flavor and texture. Make sure to cook on low heat. The stew tasted good after three hours but even better the next day.
I was excited to use the herbs from my garden (ahem, pot). The parsley is getting out of control, and I already have two types of thyme. If you have the space and the sun, start your own pot!