As the Bay Area cools, I can’t help but think of making some hearty beef stew. An oxtail stew just fits the bill as a rich comfort food. So, I visited my butcher and got some high quality oxtail. (By the way, this cut is beef. Don’t let the name fool you.)
Pressure cooker tenderizes the oxtail fast
As we chatted about the best way to stew my oxtail, he recommended using a pressure cooker
“A pressure cooker?” I remained skeptical.
“Put them in the cooker for an hour and they are mostly done. Add another 15 minutes if you like. That’s it!” he reassured me.
So, I dug out my pressure cooker for this oxtail recipe.
Making it low-carb with grapes and olives
Besides the great, warming flavors of an oxtail stew, I wanted to create a high-protein, low-carb dish. So even though I largely followed the classic method, I boldly replaced the classic potatoes with some red grapes and green olives. It was a risk I’m glad I took. I was pleasantly surprised by the added dimension from the sweetness of the grapes and saltiness of the green olives. Meanwhile, the rich, beefy taste, invigorated by Pinot Noir, was irresistible. To fit my work schedule, I prepared this recipe in two stages as follows.
This recipe serves 4 to 6
- 2 Tablespoon canola oil
- 2 lb (1.8 to 2 kg) oxtails
- 4 cups chopped onion
- 2 teaspoon butter
- Salt and pepper, a fair amount
- 2 Tablespoon flour
- 2 C (480 to 500 ml) Pinot Noir
- 1 quart (946 ml) beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ⅓ cup fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 C carrot, roughly cut
- 2 C celery, chopped
- 2 C red grapes
- 1 C green olive
- Parsley, leaves only, roughly chopped
Bring the pressure cooker to medium heat, add canola oil and oxtails to brown, making sure the pieces are turned periodically such that the oxtails are browned evenly, about 10 minutes. To avoid overcrowding the pot, you may need to brown the oxtails in batches. While the oxtails are browning, pound garlic, rosemary and thyme with 1 teaspoon of salt in a mortar to form a paste. Remove the oxtails. Add 2 cups chopped onion and 2 teaspoon of salt and saute for 5 minutes. Add flour and butter to make a roux. Cook flour for 3 minutes. Add the pounded mixture of rosemary, thyme and garlic. Then add tomato paste. Slowly add beef stock and wine, scraping off the brown bits from the bottom as you go. (Oh,those heavenly bits of flavor.) Return the oxtails to the pot. Add extra water to cover the tails if necessary. Add bay leaves. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker. Build up pressure and cook for 1 hour. Turn off heat. Quickly reduce the pressure according to the quick-release instructions of your pressure cooker. I ran cold water directly over the cooker (see Things you may want to know). Check the tail for tenderness. Add 15 minutes if necessary but make sure the oxtails are cooked slightly under. Skim off all the fat. Take your time as you will find a lot of it. This is where you can stop. Store the meat and sauce away. When you are ready to finish making the stew, heat up a soup pan, saute 2 cups of chopped onion, celery, and carrots for 3 minutes. Add 2 cups fresh Pinot Noir, oxtails and their sauce and cook for 30 minutes. Add red grapes and green olives at the 15-minute mark. The stew is finished when the vegetables are fork tender. At the final 5-minute mark, add parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
Things you may want to know
- The oxtails that you will find in the market are actually cow’s tails. No ox is involved.
- The pressure cooker used in this recipe allows me to quickly release the pressure by running tap water over the cooker in my sink. I do this to keep my timing accurate. Different cookers may have different instructions. The one used in this recipe is the Fagor Splendid 6-quart. It is available at Amazon.
- If you prefer to finish making the stew at once, after removing the fat from the oxtails, you can add the vegetables directly into the pressure cooker. Then cook them without pressure for about 30 minutes.
- Many people enjoy oxtail stew with bread. However, if you are concerned about carbs in your diet, you can switch to quinoa as a side.
- As for wine pairing, I recommend Fogdog Pinot Noir 2007 from Freestone Vineyards, Freestone, CA.
My other stew recipes
Explore my recipes and food articles! Click on the tag below to see more articles that you may be interested in. You can also click on the tag cloud on the right to find out more related recipes and food articles. Here are two other stews that came to my mind.
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