Monday, April 16, 2012

Crockpot Oxtail Soup

Oxtail soup is delicious. End of story. If you've never had it, you're missing out. the meat is very tender and delicious, with broth that makes your lips sticky. In this recipe, the meat'll come right off the bones. But don't forget those bones- there's delicious marrow in there.
This is a basic recipe; all you need to add is the additions that you like- vegetables and some sort of grain or bean.  Enjoy!

Crockpot Oxtail Soup
Serves 2 (x2 for 4)

2 lbs cut oxtail (I had to go to a butcher shop to find this, sometimes if you're lucky you'll see it in a standard grocery store).
1 tbsp olive oil
garlic salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 cube of beef bouillon
1 packet of onion soup mix
1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic
vegetables of choice
bean or grain of choice

Rinse and pat the cuts of oxtail dry. Season all sides with the garlic salt and black pepper. Heat a medium to large pan with the olive oil until a sprinkle of water in the pan sizzles. Add the oxtail, and brown all sides of each piece. No need to cook through, just medium to high heat for a good caramelizing.
When they're browned on all sides, add them one by one to the crockpot. Depending on how cold your crockpot is, you can turn it to low or warm during this. Deglaze the pan and add the water and all the goodies to the crockpot. Add water to the crockpot, a little or a lot depending on how thick you want your soup. I like mine more soupy, and remember there will be loss of water throughout the day due to cooking. Add the beef cube, the onion soup mix, the Worcestershire sauce, and a pressed clove of garlic. At this time, add any grains or beans that'll take longer than 45 minutes regularly to cook. I've added barley in the past, and it was delicious. 
Set on low for 6-8 hours. 6 hours if you want to add anything, 8 hours if you're not going to add anything. Anything examples include: Lentils, presoaked kidney/lima/garbanzo/pinto beans, cracked wheat, quinoa, Cauliflower, carrots, parsley root, etc. I usually put whatever's in the fridge. Last time I made it there was cauliflower, carrots, and lentils added. When you put in your additions (including another pressed clove of garlic) let it cook for an hour or two, or until the veggies are cooked. (the oxtail will be fully cooked at 6 hours). Let me know what additions you came up with!
Also, if there is any broth left after dinner, save it! It makes great soup additions in the future. Freeze it into little ice cubes and add to soups and gravies, or anytime you want that rich beef flavor.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Homemade Sauerkraut

So I found another food that my husband will not allow me to make in the kitchen ever again; sauerkraut. He doesn't like it at all- its smell, taste, look. He won't even sit near me when I eat it, even the storebought stuff. Well, his loss. I've always been a fan of sauerkraut. Maybe its the crispness, that sour taste, the brine. Whatever it is, when I made it myself I just might never buy it from the store ever again. It just has that something extra. Not only does it taste great, but its good for you too. I found this recipe in Sandor Ellix Katz's book Wild Fermentation, and tweeked it to my liking. Enjoy! 

What you'll need:
A crock to ferment in
a small plate that fits inside the crock
a large cup or vessel that will fit on top of the plate inside the crock and can be filled with water
a clean towel or cheesecloth

1/2 head of green cabbage
1/2 head of red cabbage
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
2 carrots
pinch of caraway seeds
pinch of celery seeds
container of sea salt

Finely chop up the cabbage, and as you're putting the cabbage into a big bowl, every now and then sprinkle salt on it (overall you want about 1 tsp to 1 tbsp of salt for 1 head of cabbage). I used 2 halves of cabbage, but if you have a big enough crock you can use the whole ones. Chop up the shallots, and mince the garlic. Add those to the bowl, adding salt. Grate the carrots, add to the bowl, add salt. Add the caraway and celery seeds to the bowl. The salt will draw the moisture out of the vegetables, so make sure to mix well.
Start packing the mixture into the crock. Pack it in well, you should have no pockets of air, and possibly have liquid rising from the mixture. After you've packed in all of the vegetables, you should have enough liquid to cover. I didn't, so I added brine. Make brine from 1 tbsp of salt added to 1 cup of water. I added enough brine to cover the mixture.
Put the plate on the mixture, and a full cup of water on top of that (the cup adds weight so the vegetables don't touch the air). On top of this put a clean kitchen towel (so that dust can't get in). Let this sit on your kitchen counter (Or the next time I make it the garage or well ventilated (but not hot) place) to ferment. Try a little every day, until it has reached your favorite flavor and crunch. It took mine a week in the winter, but this is Vegas. If it is cooler it can take longer. Once it has fermented to your liking, store in the fridge (I put mine in a reused pickle jar).
There's all kinds of different ways to make sauerkraut, next time I might add more garlic and different seeds. Please let me know your favorite way to make it!