By Jody Williams, chef-proprietor, Buvette Gastrothèque, New York
Riffing off a classic Roman oxtail stew, coda alla vaccinara, with its characteristic sweet and sour note, the inclusion of bittersweet chocolate imbues this melt-in-the-mouth meaty braise with rich complexity, a hint of sweetness, and a silky, seductive consistency.
- 1.1-1.3kg trimmed oxtails, cut into 5cm rounds
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 medium leek, roughly chopped
- 470ml dry red wine
- 470ml chicken or veal stock
- 470ml cups water
- 85g bittersweet chocolate
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 juniper berries, crushed
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Peel of half an orange
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed
Preheat the oven to 175°C. Season the oxtails generously with salt and pepper and set aside. Add one to two tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed casserole with a tight-fitting lid and place over a medium heat. When hot, add the oxtails and sear until browned all over. Transfer the oxtails to a plate.
Pour off and discard the fat. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil and return to the heat. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about seven to nine minutes.
Pour in the red wine, bring to the boil, and simmer until reduced by at least half. Next, add the chicken or veal stock and water, together with the chocolate, bay leaf, juniper berries, rosemary and orange peel. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and return the oxtail to the pot. Cover the casserole, place in the oven and cook for two hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones.
Remove the casserole from the oven and skim the fat from the surface. If the cooking liquid is too thin, remove the oxtails from the pan and transfer to a plate. Bring the cooking liquid up to a boil and lower to a simmer, then reduce until the liquid thickens to a sauce consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve the oxtail with the sauce over soft polenta or potato purée.
Recipe taken from Women Chefs of New York by Nadia Arumugam (reviewed here). Photography by Alice Gao