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Savor the Comfort of Bilbao-Style Braised Oxtails

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Oxtail Bilbao-Style

Oxtail Bilbao-Style

One of the best things about buying part of a grass-fed cow is getting the oxtail, which is my idea of pure comfort food — braised slowly until the meat is so tender it practically dissolves with every bite.

I don’t have one single recipe to make them, however. I could go with a Jamaican spice on one attempt, a stew on another. My most recent attempt was a recipe from Teresa Barrenechea’s “The Basque Table” (The Harvard Common Press, $18.95). It was created during Bilbao’s annual Semana Grande, or Aste Nagusia.

“A friend of mine prepared this outstanding dish for one of the cooking contests held during (the festival),” she writes. “Although my friend used the tails of slain fighting bulls, I have substituted oxtails.”

Oxtails have become more readily available in recent years. I’ve even seen them at Costco on occasion. If you can’t find them, ask your butcher or the person working in your supermarket meat department.

Oxtails Bilbao-Style (Rabo de Buey Aste Nagusia)

4 pounds oxtails, cut into pieces
About 3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 leeks, sliced and cleaned
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (750-milliliter) bottle (about 3 1/2 cups) red Rioja wine
2 cups water

Sprinkle the oxtails with the salt.

Braised oxtails

Braised oxtails

Spread the flour in a shallow dish, and coat the oxtails on all sides. Shake off the excess flour.

In a large, deep skillet or a pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the oxtails for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown on all sides. Add the onoin, carrots, tomatoes, leeks and garlic, and stir. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the wine and water, and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cook for about 2 1/2 hours, until the oxtails are tender. Lift the oxtails from the pan, arrange them on a platter, and cover them to keep them warm.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a food mill, blender or food processor, and purée them. Spoon the sauce over the oxtails, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

From “The Basque Table” by Teresa Barrenechea with Mary Goodbody

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