Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rabo de Toro a la Cordobesa (Cordoba style Oxtail)

  At my house when we cook oxtails it's a HUGE DEAL, my grandma, mom, dad, me, and little sister ALWAYS have to be present to cook this, we have to make sure everyone is at the house for dinner that day. Why? Well because it's our favorite cut of meat, it's rich, flavorful,moist, tender and produces a sauce that is out of this world.

     There are three ways we prepare oxtails in my family, one is in a type of Mexican soup we call "Caldo de Cola" which is simply the Mexican "Cocido de Res" (beef soup with a tons of vegetables) prepared with oxtails, the other is "Rabo Encendido Estilo Chino Cubano" it's one of my grandmother's creations I guess, it's braised in soy sauce & wine but with Cuban spices and sofrito....

    BUT and it's a BIG BUT lastly the way we ALMOST ALWAYS prepare it, for us the most delicious and favorite way is well the typical Cuban-Spanish "Rabo Encendido" in which the oxtails are browned and stewed in a Spanish/ creole tomato based sauce, that's almost always our go to recipe my grandmother taught me and my mother, but today I wanted something a little different (and honestly it's not so different that's why huge emphasis on "a little" I decided to prepare it "Cordoba" style, Cordoba is a city in Andalusia, Spain, it's practically the same as my grandmother's recipe, except the spice combination is a little different instead of using "cumin" it's replaced with sweet smoked spanish paprika & has the addition of cloves & saffron which is a nice little twist :)

-4 1/2 lbs. oxtails (washed and rinsed twice, drain and pat dry with paper towels)

-extra-virgin olive oil (as needed to cook/ sautee the aromatics/ vegetables)
-4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
-2 onions finely chopped
-1 green bell pepper chopped
-1 red bell pepper chopped
-1 yellow bell pepper chopped
-8- 12 head of garlic minced
-4 large ripe tomatoes or 8 oz. of a thick prepared tomato sauce or 16 oz. of a regular one

-3 bay leaves
-1 tablespoon "Pimenton de la Vera" (sweet SMOKED Spanish paprika)
-8 cloves (I grind them to a powder to not risk anyone biting into one)
-1 tsp ground black pepper 

-SALT to taste (atleast 1 1/2 tsp.)

Optional Ingredients:
-1 teaspoon saffron or other coloring powder (turmeric would work here goes well with smoked paprika, in Spain they have a powder called "Colorante Alimentario" it's an edible coloring powder, Cubans use one called "Bijol" made of ground annato seeds, or packets of Goya's "Sazon" with saffron or achiote, your choice, if you leave it out it's not a big deal)
-6 potatoes (peeled cut into large chunks)

(1) Heat a large deep pot over very very high heat, when it's real hot, to test it splash some water if the water turns to little pearls and bounces around before evaporating it's ready. Add your oxtail you'll hear a thundering sound sort of and a grilled smoked smell, stir oxtails occasionally and allow to brown all over (DO NOT ADD OIL) the oxtails will render some fat, this will take anywhere from 5- 10 minutes maybe longer.

(2) This creates a wonderful "fond" for de-glazing on the bottom of the pan and will add a smokey, meaty flavor. Now lower your heat, remove oxtials and set aside, in the same pan add carrots, onions, bell eppers, and garlic cook down for 5- 8 minutes until translucent scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

(3) Add your tomato sauce, 3 bay leaves, and spices (smoked paprika, cloves, and pepper) stir about 3 minutes to reduce. Add your red wine, and allow to reduce by half (the wine unlocks some flavor in the tomato that's only soluble in alcohol)

(4) Now add your oxtails and stir/ coat everything well together. Add enough water to BARELY cover oxtails, bring to a rolling boil over high heat,

cover, and reduce heat to medium low to low. Allow to simmer covered 3-4 hours. After 3 hours check for tenderness if you want it more tender cook longer.

(5) Once tender to your liking, add saffron if your using and potatoes, allow to cook an additional 30- 40 minutes until potatoes are tender and flavors meld. (add more water as needed this stew is NOT a soup, so make sure the sauce is not too thin)

(6) Serve with steamed white rice, a salad, and any other sides you may like :)