I've been blog-a-phobic lately, so haven't been posting here or on my other blog. While I could speculate endlessly about why (the blues? creative block? finger cramps?) I won't bother and will instead tell you that I made a crock pot full of ox-tail stew for dinner tonight.
It strikes me as funny that many cuts of meat that used to be offal are now trendy. I used to pay maybe $1.50/lb at most for ox-tail, now I'm excited if I find it for $3.50. I did, indeed, find a sale, so took those wonderful, fatty, collagenous pieces of meat along with carrots, onion, shallots, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), celery, wine and assorted spices and let the crock pot do its thing.
By the time I came home, after 8+ hours of cooking, the house smelled wonderful.
I skimmed at least a half cup of fat off the stew, adjusted the spices (mostly it needed more salt and pepper, the oregano, marjoram and bay were enough, though I also added some balsamic vinegar to cut the richness a bit), let it cook a bit more then served on top of noodles.
My god, the decadence. The meat was meltingly tender, the veggies had disintegrated into mush and the whole thing was redolent with ancient memories of using every scrap of the beast, something we shy away from now. I could imagine the pot simmering on an old wood burning cook stove for hours. I also thought about the African American/Appalachian story, Taileypo, in which the protagonist (such as he is) eats the tail of a monstrous beast who later comes to get his tail back. Here's hoping no oxen come tonight for me and instead the universe simply nods in approval that the old flavors are not forgotten.
(c) 2009 Laura S. Packer