[Editor's Note: Michael is filing this while at a conference in California, so he deserves a few props.]
Over Christmas, I made a point of requesting a large number of cookbooks in the name of expanding my culinary repertoire boldly into the realm French cookery. One of my first attempts was an as yet unpublished, seemingly straightforward Beef Bourguignonne. While everything seemed right on the surface, the final product was a bit too dry for my liking. I wondered if our very lean American supermarket beef was to blame for the discontinuity. We resolved to try again, this time with an ingredient that we hoped would be more foolproof.
I’ve mentioned before that we occasionally take-in an old episode of Emeril Live! on Cooking channel while enjoying dinner. In more than one episode in the current rotation, he utilizes oxtails in some kind of braising method. A recent episode of Top Chef has also exhibited them. Braising such a gelatin-rich cut should give us the results we were seeking in our first attempt, and Elizabeth found a recipe from Bon Appetit that would fit the bill nicely. Both Esposito & Sons as well as the Harlem Fairway both carry oxtails; we opted to pick up the required 4 lbs during our weekly grocery store trip. Sadly, we were only able to obtain about half of what we needed so we had to bolster with normal beef shanks, but I think it made little difference.
The dish had all the charming French components we had come to expect from hours of watching food on TV and leaving through our cookbooks: lots of bacon flavor, pearl onions, a thick rich gravy with the lovely, tender beef you’d hope for in a braised dish. Next time, I’d like to try oxtails in a more tomato-y application and serve over proper pasta instead of egg noodles. I’ll also have to visit my proper butcher for supplies this time, instead of being at the mercy of the vagaries of the supermarket on Sunday afternoon. Until next time, friends, cook on!