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Oxtail Stew

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

So, I've tried a version of Oxtail Stew, first served over polenta and a second time over papardelle noodles. While the meat came out tender, and the texture of the gravy was good, both times, it seems the flavor was a bit 'flat'. I've had others suggest it's the particular red wine used or that I should include Worcestershire Sauce in the stew. As I'd rather try something not 'in a bottle' for an extra zing of flavor, any thoughts?

post #2 of 17
Could be the red wine, but I doubt it.

1. Add salt
2. More pepper and herbs
3. Sear the meat thoroughly before stewing
4. Braise semi-covered
5. Add half a tin of anchovies right at the start (they'll melt to nothing)
6. Degrease thoroughly, then whisk in a little butter at the end, off heat
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisLehrer View Post

Could be the red wine, but I doubt it.

1. Add salt
2. More pepper and herbs
3. Sear the meat thoroughly before stewing
4. Braise semi-covered
5. Add half a tin of anchovies right at the start (they'll melt to nothing)
6. Degrease thoroughly, then whisk in a little butter at the end, off heat

 

The salt/pepper ratio didn't seem bad. Herbs used include celery, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Some friends have suggested cloves, but I can't stand that particular taste (overly clove covered ham one Christmas killed that taste bud).

 

The sauce just seemed to lack that 'something' to make it have more depth. Do like the idea of the anchovies, that and perhaps a bit more the butter. at the end.

post #4 of 17

I use a little beef base in my gravy to boost the flavor. Better than Bullion is pretty decent! Or if I have it on hand I will use homemade stock I reduce by 3/4 so it is super rich. It adds that extra beefy kick that I think you are missing. Mushrooms can also add a ton of added flavor and they don't have to be pieces. I use dried mushroom powder the same was as the beef base. I don't add enough to make it taste like a mushroom but enough to make the flavor profile change... hard to explain that! Add to taste the first few times then you will know how much to use.

post #5 of 17

Use a piece of kombu when making the stew. It will really get an umami boost and round out the flavor profile. Then before serving, just remove the kombu.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #6 of 17

IDK. If I'm making it I'd use a porter beer instead of wine, and I've got no problem using Worcestershire sauce. I don't have any issues using stuff from a bottle.

post #7 of 17
Quote:

Originally Posted by Zeppo Shanski View Post

 

 I've got no problem using Worcestershire sauce. I don't have any issues using stuff from a bottle.

 

Me either....and it doesn't have to be from the upper top shelf close to the ceiling.

A good brand of whatever made by a trusty house.

I do like the idea of the kombu and MaryB's mushroom powder may be a nice trade secret for your hip pocket (if you have the need in a throw down with another fancy pants foodie...not using FP as a derogatory term here but everyone has someone like that in their circle lol ;-)

Umami.

 

mimi

 

Don't discount the advice re salt either.

Try a dab of Better than Bullion (there goes MaryB again lol).

Bigger bang...beefy AND salty.

Just be sure you are finished with the reducing part (I know YOU know but someone else may come along who needs to hear this).

 

m.

post #8 of 17

I'd like to add a bit of Soy sauce as a secret ingredient bring more flavor to the dish .If you are against the use of anything from a bottle remember fresh garlic can do great things in a stew.

Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

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Every smoker quits smoking sooner or later!

Only the smart ones are doing it while they are still alive.

Wer den Pfennig nicht ehrt,

Ist des Talers nicht wehrt !

Reply
post #9 of 17

Correcting seasoning is as much art as it is salt. Even though salt is usually what is reached for first. 

 

Acid is one of my favorite choices. One because it doesn't add appreciable sodium; Two it tends to make things taste fresher and brighter. Fresh lemon juice is the most versatile here. Then Cider Vinegar and Rice vinegar. Cider vinegar, though fermented still packs fresh fruity tones. Rice vinegar can be vaguely citrusy but milder.  This makes them versativel compared to wine vinegars that I find more limited in application for correcting seasoning. 

 

Hot sauce, but mild hot sauce. Hot sauce packs acidity as well, but includes the heat factor. Chile sauces trigger pain receptors which seems to sensitize the tastebuds to other flavors already present. Similarly, mustard, horseradish, wasabi and black pepper all trigger the pain receptors. The strong sinus kick of horseradish and wasabi make them difficult to use for correction, But dijon mustard or yellow mustard can kick up flavors too. 

 

Herbs, espcially dried ones, usually benefit from some cooking time so you should be "correcting" along the way. Paul Prudhomme did this a lot with his spice blends. In his early books, he'd give you the list of ingredients to blend. In later editions he began to just list his commercial blends. Anyway, because herbs and spiced develop different flavors at different lengths of cooking and treatment, he'd instruct you to add some of the spice blend at various points throughout the cooking. He wanted the dish to take on as many different characteristics of the flavors as it could in the time it cooked. Similarly, you should be tasting your dishes along the way and seeing if the flavor is on track. This is a skill that takes practice to develop. It means tasting your food (in food safe ways) to ensure your seasoning arrives at the desired end. And learning how flavor changes with the cooking. 

 

Special recommendation to furikake. Grind it up if you want it to disappear into the dish as a finshing accent.--watch the salt addition though. 

 

Fresh herbs to consider for correcting seasoning. Basil, Cilantro (on appropriate dishes). Parsley, beyond the garnish factor has a peppery freshness I like. 

 

Use the best salt you can. And i don't mean fleur de sel, though that's fine too. No, I mean use high salt seasonings to build flavor but without over salting the dish. This is your "bottled flavors" you decried in the first post. Or Anchovies.

 

Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce, Worcerstershire sauce are all high sodium seasonings with great power and versatility.  They are bottled complexity. They are complex because they are fermented ingredients. Time and fermentation build myriad new chemicals and flavors from simple ingredients,  Rather than a cheat, they are in the same category as wine, but so strong, you use them lightly. Rather than building flavor with long cooking in the pot, they build flavor over time in the ferment. It's why Asian food can cook quickly and be full flavored. Used lightly, they don't make your dishes taste Asian, just complex. And salty. So adjust your added salt accordingly. 

 

Similarly, there are other fermented high salt products, most notably Parmigianno Regianno or other aged grating cheeses. These pack a lot of savory salty flavors. It's one of my favorite salty flavors. Similar flavors also appear in the best fish sauce. 

 

A good stock base. Where restaurants build with demiglace, a home cook can bunch up a weak broth or sauce with some low sodium base of good quality. Better than Bouillion makes some good ones that are widely available. Better still are brands like More than Gourmet, but they are commensurately more expensive. Again, this usually benefits with some cooking time, so you need to be tasting as you cook to correct in time.  But you can save your dish with the timely addition. Similar compounds again come from Asia--indeed, the granulated Chicken Base was known as Chicken MSG in the industry at one time as it  was used as seasoning. But also Oigatsuo Tsusyu. This is essentially dashi and soy concentrate used for quick broths in Japan. It's not a bad soy substitute in it's own right if you want some fishiness for whatever reason. 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 17

MAGGI® Liquid Seasoning is used around the world to season meat and vegetables. I always am told I don't use enough salt except by my doctor who tells me I use to much.

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post
 

MAGGI® Liquid Seasoning is used around the world to season meat and vegetables. I always am told I don't use enough salt except by my doctor who tells me I use to much.

 

Same here.

Funny when having the family over for Sunday dinner and the first thing on the table is a salt dish.

I guess it is because I stopped smoking....everything tastes different...not sure I like the change in palate...but not enuf to pay almost ten bucks for a pack of smokes.

 

mimi

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

phach,

 

You've provided lots of things to consider. May be trying to incorporate some this weekend, I'll be sure to post my revised dish.

 

Cheers.

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dectra View Post
 

So, I've tried a version of Oxtail Stew, first served over polenta and a second time over papardelle noodles. While the meat came out tender, and the texture of the gravy was good, both times, it seems the flavor was a bit 'flat'. I've had others suggest it's the particular red wine used or that I should include Worcestershire Sauce in the stew. As I'd rather try something not 'in a bottle' for an extra zing of flavor, any thoughts?

Oxtails are a wonderful and richly flavored base for a first rate stew. Do not be stingy. There should be at least 3~4 pounds of oxtails.  A French approach is always good: Mirepoix and a rich tomato paste, plenty of garlic, savory spices (sage, thyme, basil, and rosemary), crushed red pepper, white pepper, and black pepper. Avoid water. I use Scotch and red wine. Maybe a little port. I suggest you roast the vegetables (celery, carrots, and onions) and meat under a broiler until takes on some color to start. Long slow covered cooking is needed. Try using the oven. Skim the fat. Correct seasoning before serving. Consider a gremolata just before serving.

post #14 of 17

When I make my oxtail soup I brown the oxtails till well browned using a heavy-bottomed stock pot. Then I add my mirepoix, tomato paste, red wine. I spice very sparingly- garlic, thyme, pepper Then I use beef stock and a very light simmer on the stove. Ideally when its done the oxtails are just about to fall apart. I wait on salt till the very end when I finally adjust the seasoning. I serve in a shallow bowl so I can see the soup, oxtail in the middle. I like mine clear. It should be rich, beefy, and make your lips stick together from all the gelatin and collagen.

 

Good luck,

Peachcreek

What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

Scotch?

 

hmmm....used wine plenty, but that's a different approach

post #16 of 17

....what really makes the Oxtail Stew stand out is the perfect amount of tears I shed into the pot while I pour in my really really yummy Scotch....

What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
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post #17 of 17

Why would you use anything better than every-day drinkable Scotch to cook with? I don't get that. I think the same way about cooking with wine. I use very good drinkable wine. Never anything over-the-top. 

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