Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oxtail Stew with Black Beans and Black Eyed Peas

The first time I can say for sure that I had oxtails was at the poet Staceyann Chin's 30th birthday party. Not only can that woman spit fierce spoken word, but, the little general as I call her, can also cook up some fierce West Indian food. At her party she had a hell of a spread, and the best of the best was the oxtails. For about an hour, as the house filled up with the most beautiful black lesbians the world has to offer, I sat in the kitchen, nodding hellos, and eating about sixteen cows worth of oxtails. There wasn't an ounce of shame in my game.

Since then I have come to deeply love and admire the tail of the ox. From it's preparation in West Indian to traditional Thai soups, the oxtail can't have a much bigger fan than me.

Yesterday, I left the house to go shopping for meat to cook with the black beans and black eyed peas I had at home. I was cooking dinner for my friend Natalie, and I wanted to make sure I made something that was delicious, filling, and that I could send home with her in large quantities. Natalie will be the first to tell you that she is a champion eater, and she is a wonderful person to cook for as she is very vocal in her praise, but she doesn't find the same joy in cooking that I do. When I stumbled across to packages of amazing looking oxtails at D'Agostino, a recipe popped into my head that I knew I was going to have to make.

Plus, Nat loves oxtails as much (perhaps more) than I do. Plus, she's Jamaican, so I wouldn't even try to compare my tails to the ones her family throws down.

Unfortunately, I mistimed the cooking of the beans, and so the soup was almost but not quite ready to be eaten when Natalie came over. Since it was already past 8pm, we ordered Thai take out and I sent her home with soup. I woke up this morning to an email from her praising the soup, which made me happy. Now I am sitting here eating a bowl of it, and I thought I would share the recipe with ya'll.

Oxtail Stew with Black Beans and Black Eyed Peas

2lbs of oxtails (if you can get them from the butcher, they will be cheaper than the grocery)
1/2 lb chuck roast cubed
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
1 large red potato
1 red onion
1 bunch scallions
6 cloves garlic
2 jalapenos
1/2 lb black eyed peas
1/2 lb black beans
3 tbsp Goya Adobo
2 packages Goya Sazon con Azafran
1 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried basil flakes

First of all, if you remember, soak the black beans over night. Pour them in a bowl, cover with water, and let sit until its time to cook. Do NOT soak the black eyed peas. If you do not soak your black beans the cooking time for the stew goes from 3 to between 5 and 6 hours.

Chop the carrot, parsnip, and potato into small pieces. Mince the onions and garlic. Cube the chuck roast. Then put it all in a large pot along with the spices and the beans. Cover with water and then stir so that everything is well mixed. Turn the heat to medium high. Check the pot regularly, stirring occasionally, and make sure that there is always sufficient water in the pot (sufficient meaning that everything is don't want the oxtails to dry out).

If you soaked your beans over night, cook for three hours. If not, cook for five to six hours checking the black beans until they are ready to eat. The black eyed peas cook, without soaking, in just a couple of hours. Also, the black eyed peas, when fully cooked, will give the stew a rich brown broth (until then the water will remain relatively clear).

Serve the stew with a side of jasmine rice and steamed vegetables. This will make a HUGE pot of soup. The ingredients will run you just around $20, and this stew will feed a family of four for several days or 10 to 12 people at one sitting.

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