Many recipes call for beef stock (e.g. French onion soup), but good beef stock is hard to come by, with beef prices these days, expensive to make. Beef oxtails make a wonderful stock and sometimes you can get them (try Costco) at a reasonable price. If you’ve never cooked oxtails before, they do indeed come from the tail of a steer, and they make the most divinely flavorful stew. Their bones are also filled with marrow, perfect for making bouillon. It makes a delicious soup all on its own. You can also use it as a base for French onion soup or other beef-based soups.
We found this recipe in an old issue of Gourmet magazine. It accompanied an oxtail pâté which you make from the strained oxtails from this recipe.
- 3-4 lbs oxtails, patted dry
- Salt and pepper
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 2 carrots, cut into 1-inch sections
- Zest of one orange, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 quarts water
- 1/3 cup fresh cranberries (if in season, otherwise use a quarter of a lemon)
- 10 oz mushrooms, chopped coarse
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch sections
- 4 sprigs of thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cloves
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 Preheat the oven to 450°F. Pat dry the oxtails with paper towels and put them in a roasting pan. Sprinkle on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, onions, and zest. Roast in the middle rack, turning the oxtails as the are browned. Once browned, remove from oven and place the oxtails and vegetables into a large stockpot.
2 Place the roasting pan on the stovetop on medium high heat. Add the wine to the pan to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add the liquid to the stockpot with the oxtails. Add the cranberries, mushrooms, celery, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorns. Bring the liquid to a boil, skimming whatever foam rises to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 3 hours.
3 Ladle the mixture through a sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towels into a large bowl. Reserve the oxtails for another use, such as oxtail pate. Discard the remaining solids. The bouillon can be made 3 days in advance and kept chilled. Discard excess fat (leave enough to cover soup when chilled).