Saturday, November 12, 2005

Make-Your-Own Oxtail Flip Book

I am the type of person who would rather live in the sun-blinding, searing heat of Death Valley than live in a region that snows or has temperatures under 30 degrees fahrenheit. To combat this week's frigid weather in the arctic-feeling Bay Area, I opted to make a warming, hearty, and nutritious meal of oxtail stew.

Making oxtail stew is relatively easy. You don't need to vigilantly babysit the stew to make sure it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. All you do is throw the ingredients together in a large dutch oven, turn the gas flame to medium-high, and come back in three hours.

However, I did not have that much to do today, so with the aid of my trusty digital camera, I snapped pictures of the various stages in the cooking of oxtail stew. What follows will be quasi-narrative, quasi-recipe, and 100% hunger-inducing! (Hopefully.)

Stage #1

First, brown the meaty portions of oxtail alongside cubes of yellow onion and sizeable chunks of carrots. Once the edges of the onions begin to caramelize and turn brown (the onions should still be a crunchy and white in other places) fill the pot with red wine, a thick can of chunky stewed tomatoes, and boiling water.

Stage #2

After 30 minutes, you may find that nothing has changed much--except you will notice that the soup-line is slowly receding.

Stage #3

At this point, the soup has clearly begun to thicken. The simmering bubbles have separated the layers of the onions, so that the onions flaps that remain have a floppy and soggy or almost papery consistency. The carrots still have a crisp bite, almost like al dente pasta; and the oxtail meat is not yet tender enough to be eaten.

Stage #4
Now, the onions have begun to disappear, and the harsh lines of the carrots have softened and become rounded. The bone also begins to show as the meat tightens and pulls away.

Stage #5
Finally, three hours later, the tough tendons, chewy gristle, and crunchy cartilage has softened into a flavorful gelatin and the marrow of the heavy bones have imparted their creaminess throughout the soup. The onions have completely melted away. At this last stage, the soup is wonderfully edible. The oxtail meat is sans any toothy tug, is smothered in deeply-flavored sauce and is very "fall-off-the-bone"--better than any barbequed rib you could ever imagine.

Stage #6

Eat! Bundling oneself in a hooded wool jacket and slurping up the steaming and thick stew is the perfect way to thaw out numbed and frozen extremities.


  1. I love the "time lapse" photo's, I wish more cookbooks were designed in that manner. Love the site.

  2. Thanks for the friendly comment Kirk! My feelings are mutual--I love your blog too, and will definitely keep visiting. You an amazing photographer and have some incredible pictures on there!

  3. wow i love this entry! looks so yummy... haha now i know how to make it off of your pics! :p

  4. Thank you LL, you are so sweet! When are Thomas and Stanley going to cook for us like they promised? I'd love to get together sometime and we could make dinner or have a potluck together.

  5. Hi, after reading your blog, the book publisher (situated in Northern California) that I work for would like to send you a review copy of a food memoir. Is there an e-mail address or snail-mail address that we can use to contact you more efficiently? We will not use your e-mail address for purposes beyond the sending of the review copy.

  6. Interesting! I would definitely like to read a "food memoir." Let me know what publisher you work for, and I'll give you an email address.

    Thanks for visiting Jennynab!

  7. J and I would love to try some of this!!! Looks yummy!!

  8. Thanks Alf! I actually just made oxtail soup again today--believe it or not!

    I would really like to make a homemade dinner for you and J sometime. I'll cook and you critique!

  9. Hi P.Eater, that oxtail soup looks so rich and delicious. It looks way better than my mom's version, so don't tell her. Did you use tomato paste AND fresh tomatoes? Nice posting.

  10. Thank you Dylan! I actually use large cans of diced tomatoes. Stewed tomatoes sometimes come canned in tomato sauce, but cans of diced tomatoes only have the fresh, and almost watery juice from the tomatoes. I like that when I don't want it to be thick and stewy, but more light and soupy. Plus, by using the canned version, I don't have to pick out the waxy tomato skins later.

    Also too, I loved your coq au vin, it looked incredible!

  11. Jone is the best person ever. I had the pleasure of being her roommate my first year of college. We were fast-friends because we both LOVED food and ate like fat pigs.

    Jone - this blog is incredible. The pictures are so vivid. They make me salivate!

    :o) Jamie

  12. Thank you Jamie, you made my day! Don't forget, we also became fast-friends because you are a wonderful person. Hope to see you soon. I promise that we'll get together in January.

  13. I just wanted to tell you that I knew of your lovely blog through stanley's website (we met through Lumps, church). Today my sister-in-law and I wanted to make oxtail soup. I initially googled, but then with all of the "this is not what I'm looking for" time I spent, I suddenly remembered the one time I saw your site and salivated over the oxtail soup entry. If you have any precise-r instructions I'd love to know them!


  14. Hello Ms. Bliss!

    Generally, when I make oxtail soup, I buy those large cans of tomatoes and fry up cubes of yellow onions and oxtail first, then add several cups of water. You can add a cup or 1/2 a cup of red wine, or none at all. You can either wait till it starts boiling, or just add carrots then. When the meat begins to separate slightly from the bone, but is still stringy and tough, add potatoes, celery, and cabbage.

    Hope that was helpful! Sorry I didn't provide you with an explicit recipe. You can also try Food Network, Epicurious, or All Recipes for specific recipes. Just type in "oxtail" and you should get relevant info.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment! I read and enjoy every comment, and will try to reply if time permits. If you have a blog, please leave a link. I love to discover new and delicious sites!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...