User Post: Going French: Braised Oxtail and Roasted Romanesco

I adore cooking slowly when I have the time at home (so that I can just keep an eye on the pot) and I want to not fuss over the stove and be rushed. Some of my friends just can't stand it because they think it is too hard. And who can cook French food without going to the culinary school..? Well, anybody can do some easy French dishes because they are really making themselves, you are just there on hand to make sure everything is a-ok.

So what's an easy French dish, you may ask. It is a delicious braised "anything" meat and veggies. Braising is a slow cooking style commonly used in the Provencal cuisine. You can really braise anything, and it is best tasting when that meat is on a bone. Bone keeps the meat moist and adds that rich flavor that you just can't get otherwise.

I love braising, especially on the cooler days in the late fall or winter, when it rains or the winds whips at the naked branches and it is grey and somewhat stirred up yet enchantingly wonderful. That's the kind of weather I love to make my braised dishes.

For this recipe, I am going to use an oxtail (a cut of the beef that most people try to avoid and frankly I think they are missing out on some awesome flavors). But you can use ribs, chops, chicken thighs, duck legs, turkey, well, you get the idea.

a pound of oxtail (this cut is usually already packaged at Whole Foods or Ranch99 and it is unfortunately only available at specialty food stores). Let the oxtail get to a room temperature for about 20 minutes so it will brown easily. Then toss the oxtail with 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour to coat. Discard the remaining flour.
a large carrot, peeled and cut into large chunks (you will get 4 pieces, maybe 5)
2 celery sticks, cut into the same sized sticks as the carrot
1 parsnip (it is a root vegetable that looks like a carrot only white and it is the root of a parsley)
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 cups of good beef stock (I make my own by roasting the beef rib bones in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 375F and then boiling them with lots of vegetables, bay leaf, then drain and store in plastic containers in the freezer for up to 6 is easy, economical, and convenient)
1 cup of good French wine (how can you tell if it is good? You will want to drink it. Go for Burgundy or French rose)
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of Herb de Provence
nub of unsalted butter (that's between a teaspoon and a tablespoon) used only at the end as a finishing touch
1 tablespoon of minced parsley (for garnish)

You will need at least 3 hours for braising (but don't go over 4 hours). 40 minutes for the side dish.

Side dish is a roasted Romanesco (it looks like a cauliflower, only green, and is kind of in a pyramid shape. It is actually a broccoli family. If you can't find it, use cauliflower or Brussels sprouts, or a head of broccoli.)
You will need also a pound (more if you love eating veggies), a nub of unsalted butter or a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and black pepper, a 1/4 cups of grated gruyere cheese, 1/4 to 1/2 cups of bread crumbs. Mix the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, cheese and oil or butter together. Cut the Romanesco into 1 inch pieces. Place in a buttered or oiled baking sheet, sprinkle with the bread/cheese mixture, drizzle the top with a little bit of olive oil to keep the bread crumbs moist and bake/roast at 375F (preheat the oven first) for 35 minutes, rotating the pan half way through. It will be nice a golden with a crispy crust.
Do this about 40 minutes before you are done with braising.

Some people also add onions and garlic (I don't add those ingredients since I am allergic to them, but feel free to add a small onion, roughly chopped and 1 to 2 cloves of garlic cracked (no need to chop it as it will cook out completely).

Heat a large pot on a medium heat, add a tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil and brown the oxtail. Then add the vegetables, spices, and the liquids. Mix a little to de-glaze the bottom of the pot, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 3 hours. You should check at 1.5 hours how much liquid is still in the pot and add a little bit more of the beef stock or wine (whatever the dominant flavor you will prefer. If adding more wine, the dish will be more tangy and if adding more beef stock it will be more flavorful and a bit sweeter.). The oxtail should be 3/4 of the way covered with the liquid. Feel free to stir a bit. At this point you can taste the braising liquid and adjust the seasoning if needed. Slow cooking will bread down the meat making it super tender. At the end of the braising, add a nub of butter and parsley, stir and serve.

Serve once done with a nice, hot, crusty fresh baguette.

I hope you will try this recipe and let me know what you think.

Braised oxtail with Romanesco <br>