All the Spokane food-related stuff that I can't figure out how to wedge into my other blog.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spicy braised ox tails

I've been into cheap cuts lately. I love braising cheap cuts. My buddy Adam taught me how to braise ox tails many years ago. It was probably 15 years ago. Before the Food channel outted cheap cuts, these cuts were actually cheap: flank steaks, hangers, brisket, shanks, ox tails. I'm thinking ox tails were less than a buck a pound at Don and Joe's in Pikes Place Market back then. I paid $4 a pound at Huckleberries yesterday.

Anyway. This preparation can also be used for lamb shanks if you're feeling flush. Braising makes these cuts super tender where the meat falls off the bone. Be sure to attempt to get the marrow too.

You can do all sorts of stuff with the resulting meat. You can just eat it. Or you can take it off the bone and stuff it into tortillas with fresh guacamole, a bit of cabbage and queso fresco. As it turns out, as I was out buying ox tail yesterday, Liza got a hankering for grits. She made them in a crock pot with some chopped spinach, diced onions, minced jalapeno, and a bit of jack cheese. Pretty much a perfect platform for these spicy ox tails.

Tip: Don't chop the chipotle in adobe on your cutting board.
This recipe serves two hungry people, or you could stretch it to four with some salad and stuff.

  • 2 lbs of ox tail sections
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 12 oz can of chopped tomatoes with chilies (don't drain off liquid)
  • 1/2 - 3/4 can of chipotle in adobe sauce, chopped

  1. Set oven to 325 F.
  2. Salt and pepper the ox tails verily.
  3. In a non-reactive pot, sear the ox tail over medium-high heat in a bit of canola oil. Brown all sides, don't crowd them. As they brown, set them aside.
  4. Pour off the beef tallow so just a tablespoon or so remains.
  5. Add chopped onions and carrots and stir until just soft.
  6. Add red wine and scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add tomatoes and chipotle and bring it to a boil. If it's watery, cook it down a bit.
  8. Add ox tails to pot. They shouldn't be totally submerged. If they are, cook it down a bit more, or move it to a shallower pan.
  9. Put the lid on the pot and load it in the oven.
  10. Cook it for 3 hours. You can hold it for an hour or two after it's done in a 150 F oven.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Liza's Quick Wonton Raviolis

Kids love 'em!
Liza invented these. About 13 years ago, my mom showed us how to make potstickers. When Liza and I first started living together, we'd wow our friends with big platters of potstickers and homemade ponzu dipping sauce. We haven't made those for years, but we have realized that frozen wonton wrappers are a great secret weapon to have up your sleeve.

So, Liza took the wonton secret and combined it with a bit of her Italian sensibilities and her vegetarian requirement. If you want to go vegan, you could probably swap out the feta for 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast.

If you press the tofu ahead of time, this is a quickie.

- Wonton wrappers
- Marina sauce
- Filling:
  • 1 lb of tofu. Pressed for a couple hours. Then crumbled.
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta
  • 1 box frozen chopped spinach. Thawed, drained.
  • 1 glove garlic, minced
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon
  • S&P to taste
  1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling and mix gently.
  2. Put a little gob in the center of a wonton wrapper and wrap it up. Wet the edges of the wrapper a bit to help it stick.
  3. Don't do the submersion boil thing with these guys, as they'll probably not survive. Instead, put a bit of canola oil in a hot non-stick pan. Put a few raviolis in there, but don't crowd them, as they like to stick together once they get wet.
  4. Have a lid for the pan at the ready, because this next part is a bit shocking the first time.
  5. Pour about a cup of water into the pan and then immediately cover it with the lid. I like to use boiling water, but that amplifies the cracking, steaming, noisy explosion of oily watery activity. In any case, the water should just cover the bottom of the pan. The lid shouldn't be tight-fitting -- lots of steam should escape. You're steaming these suckers.
  6. Leave the lid on (so steam escapes) for about a minute, then take it off. The water should be cooking off now. If it takes more than 30 seconds or so, pour off the water. Then flip the raviolis.
  7. If you need to add a touch more oil, then do it. Saute until brown.
  8. Serve with warm marinara and cheese.