Yummy Comfort Food

Posted on May 30, 2005 by Aun

Comfort foods turn me on. Most nights, I’d much rather have a chicken pot pie, a hearty lasagne, a big plate of fried rice, or a steamed egg custard with minced pork than a multi-plated, multi-course culinary extravaganza. Comfort foods are delicious. They also activate our sense memory, transporting us back in time—to our own childhoods and sometimes to imagined but inspiring ones. I can’t eat chicken a la king, for example, without thinking of the amazing chicken a la king crepes I used to order as a kid in the 1970s and early 1980s at the Magic Pan restaurant in New York.

I think I like oxtail stew so much partly because my father has always loved it. Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed learning to cook it. Oxtail is a cheap cut, meant to be braised. Two years ago, when I was on a pressure cooker craze, I almost always pressure cooked my oxtail. Today though, I prefer slow cooking it for several hours. Either way, it’s best when cooked a day or two in advance, cooled in the fridge and then reheated before serving.

When I cook up a big batch of stew, I sometimes serve it on the bone, with mashed potatoes, veggies or some fresh baguette. Other times, I’ll debone it and turn the meat into a ragout. I’ve used it in lasagnes and used it as a ravioli stuffing. Anyway you eat it, I find that oxtail warms both the tummy and the soul.

Oxtail stew
Serves 4

8-12 pieces of oxtail
500ml beef or chicken stock
2 carrots, chopped up
2 onions, chopped up
1 stalk celery
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/3 bottle of a good red wine
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons flour
pat of butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Salt and pepper your oxtail. 2. Heat up the butter and oil in a large (oven-proof) casserole pot or cocotte. Sear the oxtail over high heat. When the oxtail is browned, put it aside. 3. Lower the heat a little and toss in the onions, carrots, garlic and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour and stir, while cooking for another minute. Then add the tomato paste and again let the mixture cook, while stirring, for another minute. Add the wine and cook until the alcohol fumes subside. Add the stock and stir. Add water, salt, or sugar to taste. 4. Place the oxtail back in the pot, nestling it with the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and then cover the pot. You can now either lower the flame and cook over the lowest flame for 2 to 3 hours, or cook in a preheated oven (180ºC) for 2.5 hours. 5. Once ready, let the stew cool to room temperature and then put it in the fridge. When you want to eat it, reheat it in the oven or over the stove. 6. One optional thing I like to do is strain the liquids from the stew, then purée the vegetables, and then add the puree back to the liquids to thicken it.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Eddie Lin May 31, 2005 at 2:28 am

    Yum-yum gimme some!! Oxtail is one of my all time favorites. I’ve cooked it (very slowly, of course) and I’ve eaten it at my favorite restaurant for oxtail, Versailles Cuban Restaurant in Los Angeles.

    Thanks for the delicious tale of oxtail!

    http://deependdining.blogspot.com/2004/11/tail-on-fire-aka-cuban-oxtail-stew.html

  2. deborah May 31, 2005 at 9:24 am

    I second Tara. It is getting mighty cold in Sydney… and an oxtail soup or stew would be nice. Have you ever had it in a curry with sweet potatoes. Another delicious slow cooked meal.

  3. tara May 31, 2005 at 10:46 am

    This is exactly the type of food I'm in the mood for – the forecast says thunder and rain, so I believe the stage is set. Comfort food is definitely on the menu! While we're on the subject, I must also profess my love for braised lamb shanks – heaven!

  4. cour marly May 31, 2005 at 9:20 pm

    Ahh excellent. Have been looking for a new oxtail stew recipe. Maybe I'll try this over the weekend.

  5. gwenda May 31, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    mmm reading this makes me hungry. in singapore we go to the hainanese-western restaurants on wednesdays (they only make it on wednesdays. dont know why) for oxtail. gah. i wish someone could make some oxtail stew for me now!

  6. Anthony May 31, 2005 at 11:12 pm

    Ha! fellow of southern hemisphereans back from digging out their jumpers. Oxtail has beeen on my must-do list for a while and unfortunately a bag of them spent a cold and lonely winter in my freezer. I'm inspired now.

  7. Chubby Hubby June 1, 2005 at 1:39 am

    Thanks for all your comments.Eddie: What's the Cuban version like?Tara: I love lamb shanks also! Sorry to hear that the weather's not that great.Saffron: Haven't done a curried oxtail yet, but now I'm inspired. Maybe a rendang also.Cour Marly: Good luck with the recipe. Hope it works for ya.Gwenda: Yah, I could never figure out the whole Wednesday thing either. Shashlik, for example, is always packed Wednesday at lunch, and their version has actually gone a tad downhill.Anthony: Looking forward to reading what recipe you use ;-)

  8. Anonymous June 1, 2005 at 8:02 am

    it looks like you were using a 'mess tin' to cook in the picture.

  9. Chubby Hubby June 1, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    heh heh… used a roasting pan to reheat before serving ;-)

  10. Esther June 2, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    There’s this place that’s known for their ‘Italiano Oxtail stew’. I haven’t eaten it before, but my friends say it’s real good.

    My Mum’s Place, 328 Joo Chiat Road, #01-03, Tel: 63443343

  11. Eddie Lin June 9, 2005 at 3:39 am

    Chubs,

    Go to my blog and read about the cuban version of oxtail stew aka “rabo encendido” or “tail on fire”. It’s too long to explain in a comment. Thanks!

  12. how to cook salmon November 5, 2005 at 7:47 pm

    I think I’ve found a search engine with a sense of humor – I was actually looking for articles on how to cook turkey, and here I am on a site called Yummy Comfort Food. There’s probably an electronic explanation for this and I have enjoyed the experience, so no harm done. Have a nice day Chubby Hubby on – if that’s your real name :0)

  13. how to cook rice November 7, 2005 at 2:19 am

    Hi
    I was searching for articles on how to cook rice when I came across Yummy Comfort Food, which is a bit weird really. I’ve enjoyed the experience but I’m not at all sure I’ve found what I’m looking for :0)

    Just thought I’d say hello.

  14. baking bread November 14, 2005 at 1:55 am

    G’day Chubby Hubby on
    I seem to have found Yummy Comfort Food while searching for things on chicken. I can see why, but I’m not sure it’s exactly what I’m looking for. Just thought I’d say hello :0)

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