All I wanted was a couple of sections of a cow’s tail, is that too much to ask?
I am in town so I check the local Waitrose for some oxtail, fresh or frozen I don’t care – nope.
In the local Sainsbury’s for the weekly shop: tuna – yes, ham – yes, vegetables – yes, cow tail – nope.
I know let’s try the butcher at the farm shop on the A4. Fresh and frozen nothing but tags showing where they should be. Asked the butcher, he could have some by Thursday – nope.
Off to another butcher, I could have some if I wanted 2kg on Thursday – nope.
Last chance the Sainsbury’s Superstore – bingo!
What’s with the oxtail, well it is a long story so sit back and relax and I will try not to bore you. It is all about BRISKET, another cut of peasant food, but it is also the golden ring of pit boss legendry to which I am soon to be famous for!!! Do you remember that back in January I bought a Weber Smokey Mountain Well it appears that the telling of a pit boss is his beef brisket. This is no feat taken lightly and in fact I have been building up to this for some time. I have had test firings of Smoked Turkey, Smoked Ribs, Pork Shoulder and
Smoked Chicken but now it was the premiere league. First we need to have a way to impart flavour and juice like no other within the meat. So I purchased a food syringe, which was rebadged by Heston so had to be good.
But what to put into the syringe to make my brisket the best in Berkshire (let’s start small, the world will be next). The Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking book 2, Techniques and Equipment
has a section on making stocks. They have done extensive research into stock making and have debunked several of the older concepts of making the best stock. The process has several steps and each one takes quite a bit of time and also money. I can now understand why the Modernist Cuisine dinners cost so much, especially when to make the stock used in the dish costs over £15 by itself, and that does not include the petrol finding the raw ingredients!!!!
First we need some meat, but we are not going to eat it we are going to throw it away.
Then we need some vegetables, but we are not going to eat them we are going to throw them away.
We also need some spices, but we are not going eat them we are going to throw them away with the chopped vegetables.
Let’s put this another way, this is NOT stew but instead stock, which is clear and full of flavour and will also fit down the syringe.
The first step is to extract the flavour from out meat. The MC guys said to cut the oxtail into sections with a band saw. Hmmm I have a nasty looking cleaver will that work, uh no just made a mess so we will use full pieces of oxtail. I understand the reason behind cutting the oxtail into slices, it all has to do with surface area. If you slice the oxtail into 3 sections then you will have 6 surfaces to take on the flavour imparted by browning the meat, also called the Maillard reaction. So into the oven the oxtail go for a bit of browning in some of the beef dripping
When it is done we set it aside to add to the pot.
Next we need to SousVide Supreme the mince to extract the meat juice. This is quite a high temperature for Sous Vide and resulted in a rock hard chunk of mince and some really strong flavoured juice. Now that the meat is prepared then the vegetables need to be bulked out. One of the old ways to make stock is to take carcase and large junks of vegetables and boil them for long periods of time over a low heat. The Modernist Cuisine method is to cut the vegetables thin and grind the meat to increase the surface area which can be transformed into stock. Also instead of using a stock pot with an open lid the MC guy’s employee a pressure cooker which works faster and also minimizes the loss of flavour to the surrounding air. Notice the increase of surface area on the vegetables when they are thinly sliced verses the picture when they were whole.
We are ready to use the Morphy Richards 48815 Digital Electric Pressure Cooker, so into the pot goes the oxtail, the juice from the to SousVide Supreme mince and all the vegetables and spices.
Add a couple of flavour enhancer’s in the form of red wine and port.
And some water, not from the tap in this area because it is hard and will change the flavour of the stock
This gets pressure cooked for 2.5 hours which is a very long time in PC time. This would probably equate to about 7.5 hours of simmering on the stove. It is a crazy long time because my pressure cooker maximum is 1.5 hours on the timer, so I had to do two sessions. When this was done, it tasted great, such depth. I put it in the fridge overnight and then removed the fat and put it into the freezer ready for the kick-off of brisket day!!!