Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

Sandra's Awesome Braised Oxtails

"You're feeding me ass," he wailed as I set out the dutch oven with a very lovingly prepared dish of braised oxtails. "Out of the entire cow, you feed me the f*&%ing ass?" The shrieking finally subsided when he tore off to Walmart for an 18-pack of eggs, a loaf of Wonder Bread, a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup, a jar of peanut butter and a pound of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. Four deep freezers full of meat all out of the pasture, gardens galore and homemade whole grain bread from locally grown & milled wheat, yet there was "nothing in the house to eat."

Needless to say this was more proof that this relationship had to be put out of its misery. I'd save the tongue to cook after he was gone, which couldn't be soon enough. I can put up with bad habits, idiosyncrasies, kooky relatives and even poorly behaved children, but the one thing I will not tolerate is someone who refuses to eat out of my pasture and off of my plate.

  • 2 large oxtails cut in 3" segments
  • 6-10 strips of bacon or back fat
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt & pepper
"You're trying to kill me, aren't you?" he spat out when he found the thick slab of back fat I nabbed of some freshly butchered pastured pork only days before from a neighbor. "If you keep feeding me this crap, I'm going to have a heart attack. No wonder your ass is so big."  He walked outside to have a cigarette which I knew would knock him dead faster than than you could say bacon. And I've realized over the last two years the more I eat real fats, like lard, bacon, butter, cream, the smaller my ass gets and the better my blood chemistry numbers get. Go figure.

 In a Dutch Oven, cook bacon until the bottom of the pan is covered with melted fat. Add pieces of oxtail and cook until browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Add fennel, carrots, onions and garlic. Cook for 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent. Return oxtail to the pan and add wine, tomatoes and seasonings. Cover and either simmer on low or place in 300 degree oven for two hours.
While I occasionally share this meal with friends I know will absolutely enjoy it, for the most part this is one of those special dishes that makes me take a deep breath filled with gratitude and accept life for what it is...awesome & delicious.