What exactly does one do with leftover oxtails?
Now, there's a question I hadn't expecting to be asking. And yet, there I was. Fresh off the thrill of making oxtail stock for French Onion soup, with a bowlful of slowly braised oxtails and nothing to do with them.
Because, I don't know about you, but oxtails are not usually in my culinary repertoire.
It seemed an absolute shame for these to go to waste, so I went hunting. It seems oxtails, being a cheaper cut of meat, are perfect for long braises and soup bases. Well, wonderful. But what if you were already serving an oxtail-based soup?
Well, as I've always said, there are few things polenta can't solve.
Turns out, oxtails are perfect companions for polenta. The softness of the meat after it's been stewing for 3 hours or so still has just enough bite to balance out the polenta. Add in a red wine sauce with mushrooms and you have yourself a hearty end of winter meal.
This, I should admit, was also my first attempt at a "proper" sauce. I usually have little time for them, but the oxtails needed a flavor boost to round out the polenta dish. The one I opted for was a basic red wine sauce with mushrooms and shallots but ended up being the perfect complement to the other two components. Yes, it takes a good hour to make the sauce ("as it should!" some people might say), but it's wonderfully complex and elevates the lowly polenta and oxtail to new haute cuisine heights.
Makes about 4 cups (4-6 servings)
4 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Bring the water and butter to a boil in a large saucepan.
Pour in the cornmeal very slowly, whisking constantly.
Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is thick and comes away from the sides of the pan as it is stirred and the cornmeal has lost its raw taste, 30-40 minutes.
Stir in the Parmesan and the salt. Serve under the oxtails and red wine sauce.
Red Wine Sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.