Stewing goodness: Oxtail soup and homemade corn tortillas

February 26, 2007 in beef, cookbook, cooking, Food Porn, ingredient, latino, recipe, review

Ahh, this was yesterday’s [tag]lunch[/tag]. For supper we had the [tag]soup[/tag], more [tag]meat[/tag], all over rice. This sort of food is just so amazingly fulfilling and filling. It is very fulfilling for the cook who likes to create foods that are rich, deep in flavor, and that start from very inauspicious ingredients. Oxtails are about as simple as you can get. No pretense!

I looked through all of my new [tag]latino[/tag] [tag]cookbook[/tag]s – [tag]Mexico One Plate At A Time[/tag], [tag]Mexican Everyday[/tag], and [tag]Secrets of Colombian Cooking[/tag] – and did not find any [tag]recipe[/tag]s for this soup, nor did I find anything in my enormous [tag]Gourmet Cookbook[/tag] (again, it strikes out.. one day I may actually make something from that cookbook). I wasn’t able to find anything about actual cooking of [tag]oxtail[/tag]s in my [tag]Culinary Institute of America[/tag] [tag]The Professional Chef[/tag] book either, pity. So, I did the sensible thing and turned to my [tag]The Joy of Cooking[/tag]. In it, I found the basics and went from there. The way I did it, it took 2 days. No reason to rush this.

I made the tortillas fresh from my new [tag]Rick Bayless[/tag] cookbook, Mexico One Plate At A Time. I used the dry [tag]Maseca Corn Masa Mix[/tag] and his recipe. Finally, I was able to make tortillas that were presentable! His directions are absolutely perfect. He is a GOD (*winks*) He also seems like a nice guy, would like to meet him one day.

If you look at the photos, you will see this mysterious symbol at the center of my tortillas. Ah, yes, the [tag]tortilla[/tag] [tag]Illuminati[/tag].. no, wait, actually, read to the bottom and you will see.

Onward to the recipes

[tag]Oxtail Soup[/tag], adapted from The Joy of Cooking

(about 7 C output)

Ingredients:

  • Package of cut up oxtails (mine was something like 5 lbs, rinse them really well before use)
  • olive oil
  • [tag]sea salt[/tag]
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 8 C cold water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 C squash, diced
  • 10 quartered button mushrooms

Directions:

Day 1

Grab a heavy bottom dutch oven/stock pot and add some olive oil, heat to medium high. Rinse oxtails and pat dry. Sprinkle with a slight amount of salt and ground pepper. Sear in the pot until a nice dark brown all over (will get your house smokey, become one with the smoke) .

Add 8 C cold water and bay leaves, bring to a simmer on low and covered. Simmer at least 4 hours. Cool pot and then put it in the fridge (we put ours in our mud room, our extra fridge in the winter) overnight.

Day 2

Remove solidified fat from surface of soup and then heat slowly back up to a simmer (covered). Add 1 C diced squash and 10 quartered button mushrooms.

Simmer for 3 hours and longer, as long as you can hold yourself at bay.

Joy says to remove the meat and fat from the bones and put only the meat back in. I left it all on the bone because people around here like to gnaw meat from bones, go figure.

Las Tortillas

As I mentioned before, I have started delving into my new cookbook by Rick Bayless, Mexico One Plate At A Time, and the first thing I wanted to try was his method for making [tag]corn tortilla[/tag]s. I am going to paraphrase it here, there are many more details is in the book itself.

A while back, [tag]Homesick Texan[/tag] did a beautiful post on making corn tortillas. She used a nifty tortilla press, which I do not have. To make both my corn and flour tortillas, I use a cast iron pan. In particular, I use this square Emerilware cast iron grill pan because it is darn heavy. (I got it for free when I bought a set of Emerilware stainless steel pots and pans at Linens and Things, its awesome stuff – All Clad)

It works like a charm BUT there is one issue. Almost every tortilla I make is embossed with the “[tag]Emeril[/tag]” logo that is on the bottom of the pan. So my tortillas say “liremE” (tho not terribly legibly). Thats the funky circle you see on the tortilla in today’s photos. Without further trivial ado, here are the details.

Bayless Tortillas

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 C Maseca Corn Masa Mix
  • 1C & 2 tablespoons hot water (actually as much as is needed, see directions)

Directions:

Have two cast iron pans (well seasoned), both dry, one on medium low heat (for 1st stage) and the other on medium high heat (for 2nd stage).

Mix 1C hot water with the Maseca with your hands. Incorporate more water until it is like a soft cookie dough but not sticky. Since I live the the cold frozen dry-as-a-bone-North East, I had to add a lot of water because the Maseca was quite dessicated.

Make dough balls the size of large walnuts (or to the size you think works best for you). Cut open a heavy duty 1 gallon freezer zip-lock back, down the sides but not along the bottom (so it opens up into a long rectangle). You can use a tortilla press or my method (the counter and a heavy pan pushed down onto the ball from above). Squish the ball flat, open the press or pull away the pan, and rotate the bag 180 degrees and squish again. This evens it out.

Peel off one side of the plastic bag, lay the tortilla onto your hand and then peel off the other side of the bag. Gently put this raw tortilla in the cooler pan and allow to cook 15 or so seconds. It wont take on any brown color but you can tell, when you flip it in a second, that it has cooked a bit. Take a fork and gently pick up this partially cooked tortilla and flip over and into the hotter pan. Let it cook 30 to 45 seconds and then flip again and cook some 15 seconds. Bayless said that if you did a good job with the masa dough, the tortilla should puff a bit at this stage, mine did! It should NOT end up looking like a pita bread tho.

Remove to something like another 1 gallon zip lock bag that holds in heat and moisture so that the tortillas soften up a bit (might need to put the bag between foil or some cloths).

Enjoy with a bit of salt, butter, and your oxtail meat!

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