Ass-Kicking Oxtail Curry (Slow-Cooker Style)

Hello my foodies!

Sorry it’s been a while since there has been an actual recipe here. Things have been pretty nuts since the last post, with recovery, work, and loads of other things, but I am well and ready to rock!

The operation was near my tailbone, and so I thought that the next thing to check off the list of food posts should be oxtail (I’m only a cow sometimes). If you’ve never heard of oxtail before and are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, these are big, fat slices of a cow’s tail: A tough cut of meat (think of how often those muscles are swatting flies!) that will turn melty and soft and gelatinous if cooked for a long time at a low temperature, and makes very rich, flavourful broth, which is why it’s perfect for stews and curries.

The first time I made it was pretty much what I would call a disaster. My kitchen has a gas stove, so even the lowest flame setting keeps things at a boil, and at the time I thought that stewing it for an hour would be long enough to soften it up, but no, I was wrong. The result was a yummy soup with nasty, tough chunks of meat that were impossible to separate from the bone segments, yargh!!

I was pretty set on tackling this challenge again and kicking its ass (especially since the doctor said no kickboxing for a little bit), which is why the slow-cooker should be your weapon of choice if you’ve got one lying around. They’re $20, they make things so much easier, there’s no stirring business to deal with, and you can prep this before work and come home to dinner, like I did. You can use a stove (and figure it out yourself), but it’s a good idea to stick around the house if that’s your plan of action.

In either case, now that it’s almost December and the weather is dark, wet and cold (unless you live in Hawaii), this is a perfect dish. Carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes add sweetness to the stew/curry (I’m calling it both), coconut milk thickens the broth, and the right spices add a warm aroma to match your nice, warm kitchen. Open the door, throw the coat on a chair, and dig in! Lovely.


Oxtail Curry Serves 4, or fewer people who want more!


4 pieces of oxtail

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 head of garlic, peeled (or less, if you’re not me)

2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks

3 small sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 400mL can of coconut milk

5 cups of hot water

1/2 teaspoon of each of the following: Dried chili flakes, ground cinnamon, turmeric, and ground cumin

3 star anise “fruits” (the dried, pointy star things)

Oil for browning


Turn the slow-cooker on HIGH and let it start warming up. Heat up a little oil in a pot on the stove and sear the oxtail pieces until they are well-browned, about 2 or 3 minutes for each the top and bottom, then transfer them to the slow-cooker. The caramelization is going to add some fab flavour to the stew.

Turn the slow-cooker on HIGH and let it start warming up. Heat up a little oil in a pot on the stove and sear the oxtail pieces until they are well-browned, about 2 or 3 minutes for each the top and bottom, then transfer them to the slow-cooker. The caramelization is going to add some fab flavour to the stew.

Cook the onions and garlic in the same pot, stirring often to prevent burning while also scraping up the yummy brown bits left over from the meat, until everything turns sort of a caramel colour.

I don't know how smelling salts work but I'm a big fan of smelling spices. That WILL wake you up in the morning!

Add the coconut milk, spices, and water. Stir gently to blend them together and let them heat up a little bit. It's a bad idea to put cold ingredients into the slow-cooker, because it takes a while for it to actually cook anything, and we're dealing with meat here.

Everybody in!

Pile the carrots and sweet potatoes on top of the meat, and carefully pour the coconut milk/everything else liquid on top. It should look a lot fuller than this, almost up to the very top of the container...

Oh, the horror!

...because when I came home 10 hours later, the lid was rattling away with steam, a lot of the water had evaporated and also was soaked up by the sweet potatoes, and it looked as though the bottom of the stew had caramelized and turned black, eeeeek!!! I rushed to add 3 more cups of hot water, gave it a quick stir, took a shower while it settled up and reconstituted, and then hopped back out to check on it.

My camera was pretty excited to be this close.

Fortunately, everything turned out great, and the hearty, meaty stew/curry tasted amazing on top of udon noodles, with some crunchy, healthy blanched broccoli and string beans. Everything was so soft that it was nice to add a little contrast and non-starchy/sugary vegetables!

Outta the way, healthy greens!

The meat was so tender that it pulled right off the bone, easy peasy. I almost feel a little sorry for that broccoli because in this photo I know nobody really cares about it, this is all about the oxtail!


Notes: Aside from coming home and freaking out, this was hassle-free, so the only thing I would change about the recipe is to adjust the water level, which is accounted for above. If you can fit in a little more than 5 cups of water, go for it. I did consider using the LOW setting on the cooker instead, but decided against it because you want to be able to cook the meat safely. I generally use the LOW setting for keeping stuff warm after it’s already done. Okay, scratch that. Other than increasing water, I would also have shut my kitchen door so my entire place and all my clothes didn’t smell like food for a day.

Eat well! And stay cozy!

Kari

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This entry was posted in Gluten-free, Meat, Poultry & Seafood, Soups & Stews and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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