Earlier this winter I became obsessed with making a large quantity of flavorful rich beef stock to freeze in smaller amounts and use with moose meat preparations and for soups and gravies, etc. I roasted marrow bones, I cooked moose roast pieces, I added every savory brown ingredient you can think of to make this stock taste rich, but I just wasn’t hitting the mark.
I reduced my stock, I added wine, I reduced it more. Finally, I texted the KBBI Check the Pantry host, Jeff Lockwood, and explained my dilemma. He replied back that I needed to add oxtails and or beef short ribs to get the level of beefy flavor I wanted. He said I needed bones with meat.
So off to the market I went in search of these flavor inducing ingredients. While selecting them from the meat department, I ran into a friend who is an excellent cook. He saw the packages of oxtail in my hand and told me they make the most amazing oxtail vegetable barley soup. I had never tasted oxtail in my life. I also bought beef short ribs and decided I would use them to add to my stock. They did the trick.
I stored the oxtails in the freezer for a time when I wanted soup. That time came this weekend. What took me so long to try these delicious, flavorful cuts of meat, I can’t say, but better late than never. This is one of the best batches of beef barley soup I’ve ever made.
Oxtail Soup with Root Vegetables and Barley
Cooking time: 3 hours for meat, 30 minutes for soup
3 pounds meaty, larger sized oxtails (about 7 – a bit more will add meat and flavor)
5 tablespoons canola oil
Salt and pepper
7 1/4 cups beef broth (4 14 ½ ounce cans)
2 cups good dry red wine
Worcestershire sauce – add a hefty glug from the bottle
3 medium size carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cleaned well, chopped
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 cup parsnips, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon snipped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper
½ cup tomato puree (or 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 6 tablespoons tomato sauce)
2 bay leaves
2 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into ½ inch cubes
½ cup quick cooking barley (if you can’t find quick cooking, use old-fashioned pearled barley)
1 cup water
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh flat leaf Italian parsley – optional
2 tablespoons fresh basil – optional
1 tablespoon fresh thyme – optional
Salt and pepper oxtails generously. In a big heavy pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add half of the oxtails and brown on all sides, remove first batch and add the remaining oxtails to brown. Add beef broth and 2 cups of wine. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover partially and simmer gently, until meat is tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 hours.
Using tongs, transfer oxtails to large bowl. Carefully pour cooking liquid into a large glass bowl or measuring cup. Place cooking liquid in freezer and freeze until fat separates from liquid, about 45 minutes. Remove from freezer and spoon fat from top of liquid and discard. Remove meat from oxtails and add to liquid. Discard bones. (Can be made one day ahead; just cover and chill.)
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot, leeks, onion, parsnips, garlic, thyme and coriander. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are golden, about 12 minutes.
Add tomato puree (or tomato paste and sauce combination) and stir until it turns a brick red color. Add bay leaves.
Add cooking liquid with meat and 1 cup water. Bring to boil; add potato and barley. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until barley is tender. If soup is too thick, add a little water.
Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.
Stir in parsley, fresh basil and fresh thyme if desired. Ladle into bowls to serve.
Strawberry Baby Spinach and Romaine Salad with Warm Citrus Shallot Vinaigrette
Salads are a favorite of mine. They are a perfect way to add veggies and fruit to your diet and also add color, texture and flavor to a meal. Let the contents of your fruit and veggie refrigerator bin be your guide. Either salad dressing recipe complements this salad.
You can prepare individual salads of the greens and other ingredients decoratively arranged on pretty plates, or use a big shallow bowl to be placed on the table to showcase the colors. Add extra crunch by sprinkling some toasted almonds or pecans on top.
Romaine lettuce torn in pieces
Sliced fresh strawberries
Mandarins or oranges, sectioned
Thin slivers of red onion
Blue cheese, gorgonzola or feta crumbles
Warm Citrus Shallot Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup minced shallot
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon grated orange rind
Salt and pepper to taste
Add olive oil to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until hot.
Add shallots and sauté until crisp tender. Add orange juice, balsamic and orange rind.
Heat all over low heat until thoroughly heated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm drizzled over salad greens.
White Balsamic Dressing
This is a light, beautiful tasting blend of just a few ingredients to dress a salad with.
Amounts are approximate. You will need more or less depending on to how much salad you are dressing.
3 tablespoons olive Oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
Pinch of red pepper
Splash of dry white wine (if you happen to be enjoying a glass while cooking!)
Salt and pepper
In a small mixing bowl blend all ingredients together, add salt and pepper to taste.
Toss with salad and serve immediately.