When I see interesting ingredients in the store I can’t help buying them. I often don’t have any idea what I am going to do with them, but into my cart they go. (This is how I ended up with a bunch of quinces from the farmers market a few weeks ago, I will post what I did with them soon). I love to experiment with different foods and flavors and I would hate to pass up something potentially wonderful just because I didn’t take the opportunity to try it. Usually the impulse items are fruits or vegetables, but this time it was oxtail. When I saw that oxtail was available from Kol Foods (they have grass-fed, pastured kosher meat and poultry, it is where we get most of our meat) I immediately added some to my Thanksgiving order. Eating paleo while keeping Kosher doesn’t leave so many different options for meats and seafood, so I am always looking for new cuts of meat to keep our meals interesting.
Many years ago, when I lived in Jerusalem, I had amazing oxtail soup at a Yemenite at a restaurant near Ben Yehudah. The restaurant is no longer there, but I knew as soon as I saw the oxtail that it was destined to become just that soup. When I found a recipe that called for not only oxtail but also fenugreek (another ingredient that had been sitting in my spice drawer for over a month since I had bought it on impulse without knowing how I would use it) I knew this was the soup I was going to make.
I have to say, this may be one of the best soups I have ever eaten. It cooks for most of the day and the end result is a soup that unbelievably rich and silky. The meat just falls off the bone. I have to admit that my husband was a bit skeptical about oxtail, but he could not stop raving about the soup. The original recipe included caraway which I didn’t have (I don’t make enough rye bread) so I left it out. I’m sure that made it a bit less authentic, but I loved the results so that is how I posted the recipe.
Now that the weather is a bit chillier I have been putting stews in the crockpot to have as a warm one-pot breakfast on Shabbat morning. They have turned out ok so far, but the long cooking time often leads to overcooked meat. This will be perfect because the longer it cooks the better the meat gets. I can’t wait to get my hands on some more oxtail to make it again.
4 1/2 lbs oxtails, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seed
1/2 teaspoon saffron thread
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 3/4 lbs white pearl onions (frozen work great)
10 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
Rinse the oxtail, then place in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil over a medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, skimming the foam off the surface until there is very little foam left.
Crush the peppercorns, cardamom, and saffron together in a spice mill / coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Stir in the fenugreek, turmeric, and salt.
Add the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spice mix to the oxtail. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to as low as possible.Cover tightly and keep on a gentle simmer for 3 hours.*
Uncover and continue to cook until the meat is incredibly tender, for another 5-6 hours. The soup is ready when the meat is falling off the bones.
*The soup can be transfered to a crockpot at this point. Cook on low heat for 10 hours.
Recipe adapted from food.com