Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Package - Parshat Mishpatim II

I came home from a late night meeting at CJP and was very excited to see that our Golden West Package O' Meat had arrived! In it were more oxtails than I had anticipated, plus 4 Ribeye steaks and some ground beef (I mentioned my blog and the recipe and managed to get $5 off shipping - they also unexpectedly threw in the ground beef for free). Oh baby, I never thought meat in the mail would be quite this exciting.

And it all looks so good. I'm actually slightly intimidated by the steaks - I haven't cooked anything like that and really don't want to mess up such beautiful looking cuts of meat. I'll be sure to consult Cooks Illustrated before I start on those. But the meat at hand is the oxtail for the oxtail soup this week.

So now, which recipe shall I choose? The one from Marcel is honestly too long and complicated for me to tackle tonight or tomorrow - plus I don't have some of the ingredients called for (like extra bone marrow to make the stock and leak leaves to make a bouquet). But I'll share it with you verbatim at the end of this post and I have promised Sam that we will make a second attempt at oxtail soup and stick to that recipe. The other ones I am considering are from Epicurious and the Golden West website. So below is a wedding of the two.

For now, I have to wait for my oxtails to defrost. I'll be sure to let you know how it all turned out after Shabbat.

Easier Oxtail Soup I'm going to do a big chunk of my cooking in the crock pot and I'm going to make a smaller version of the recipe below.

3 lbs of meaty oxtail (mine are from Golden West)
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 cups water
3 cups beef or chicken broth (home made or in a container - try to avoid powered)
3 cups dry red wine
2 onions, chopped
3 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 parsnips, peeled and cubed
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
You can either serve with the vegetables or remove them to make it more of a broth with meat.

Complex Oxtail Soup
Thanks to Marcel for typing this from memory during a ski trip! His version is based on one by Paul Bocuse.

It goes in 2 stages: (Suppose you want to serve this soup on a Friday evening Shabbat dinner - start on Thursday evening).

STAGE 1 prepare a tasty "warm" beef bouillon , nearly a "demi glace"
3 lbs marrow bones
1 lbs lean "soup meat" like brisket or shoulder
2 large onions cut in quarters
4 carrots peeled
1 leek, green part cut and kept aside
1 celery root, cut in quarters
1 or 2 leaves green cabbage (optional)
1 little bunch parsley
1 bay leave
1 twig of thyme
a dozen whole black pepper corns

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Put the bones and the onions in a pyrex and into the oven and let them become slightly brown, about 30 min.

In the meantime, peel the carrots, the celery root, rinse the cabbage leaves, and the leek and prepare a pot with 4 quarts of water .

Take two cabbage leaves and place one of the big green leaves of the leek, the parsley, the bay leaf the thyme inside of the cabbage leaves, bend and close it with kitchen twine (you can use unwaxed floss instead). This is your "bouquet garni."
When the bones are ready, put them and the onions in the water, bring to a boil, take out the scum if any then add the carrots, the leek, 1 quarter of the celery root, the bouquet garni and the lean meat.

Bring to a boil again, add the peppercorns, bring down the heat. Leave on a very slow fire the whole night or at least 6 hours.

In the morning, take the ingredients out of the pot. Let the bouillon cool down and degrease it, either with a special device if you have one or using a simple trick: let the fat go to the surface, and use kitchen paper towels that you slowly put on the liquid till it absorbs the fat and take it away. Repeat the operation until your bouillon is lean (and delicious). If you have cheese cloth in your kitchen, I recommend slowly passing the bouillon ladle by ladle through a folded sheet of it, so your bouillon is perfectly clear.

You can use the soup meat cold for your lunch sandwich or anything else. It is possible to make a large quantity of this bouillon and freeze what you don't need. You can use it later for the base of sauces or soups. Notice I didn't say to add salt. Kosher meat is always salted. Otherwise the bouillon would be too salty.

2 lbs oxtail or whatever you've got
bouquet garni
the other parts of the celery root
Beef bouillon as above -3 quarts will make 4 large servings. It should be very concentrated. (Please do me a favor, and don't replace the bouillon by powder mixed with water.... It would be a sin!)

Rinse the oxtail. Put the oxtail in a pot of water, bring to a boil and scum. Throw away the water, rinse the oxtail again. Put the oxtail and all the ingredients in the cold bouillon, and slowly bring to a boil. Bring down the heat to medium, so it is barely frizzling, and let cook for at least a couple of hours, until the little bones become gelatinous.

Pour the soup through a fine colander, and take away all the ingredients except the little bones. The soup should have a pale golden color, be completely clear and a little viscous.

Check for salt and pepper, but the taste should be of "liquid beef" not salt! Put the oxtail bones back in your soup, and warm it up.

Serve in heated soup plates with a leaf of parsley.

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