Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mmmmm, meat...

After a night of seafood (ok, even if it was a good amount of fried seafood, it's still seafood!), I was ready for some meat. I was at Savenor's recently and came across beautiful packages of these babies:

Yup, those are oxtail. In all their raw, meaty glory. Admire them, people!

On a whim, since I knew we had these gorgeous pieces of flesh in the freezer, I decided to pop into Market Basket to look for plantains. Full confession: I had never been in Market Basket. The parking lot for the one in Union Square (Somerville) was always so chaotic when I'd drive by that I was scared to go in. But I was inspired to pay my first visit thanks to Maggie at Eat Boutique, when she published her post on fried plantains. I hadn't cooked plantains in quite a while since the times I'd bought unripe ones at Whole Foods, they never ripened! I know some cultures eat plantains on the green side for more of a starchy taste, but I need mine ripe and tasting like a sweet but slightly savoury banana (I can't explain it any better, you just have to eat one).

Anyhow, at Market Basket, I was so pleased to find a big display of ripe plantains and at 79 cents for two, how could I go wrong? Now I was ready to make my mom's oxtail dish.

I grew up eating oxtails, so they don't freak me out, but it is a little disconcerting to think you're essentially gnawing on a cow's vertebrae. However, it's the part of the anatomy that contributes to the deliciousness of the dish - braising this cut for a few hours essentially melts the collagen and makes the meat incredibly rich, though from a practical standpoint, oxtail is incredibly hard to eat.

Why are these innocent-looking pieces of meat such a pain in the ass to eat? Let me show you a picture - unfortunately I forgot to a picture of our carnage, but I found a nice example over at the blog Simple Seoul Food:
from Simple Seoul Food blog
See the shape of those bones? They're not smooth, and the meat is wrapped all around those ridges. It's virtually impossible to use a knife to neatly cut the meat off the bone - and even if you did, you'd be leaving most of the meat behind. The only way to really eat oxtails the way I make them (braised, then sauteed lightly with onions, and finally back in its own broth with plantains and cabbage) is to pick them up with your hands and gnaw away with abandon. It's really not pretty, and even then it's still incredibly hard to pull the meat clinging stubbornly to every crack and crevice. Outside of developing a raspy tongue like a cat, has anyone thought of developing a special meat-extracting device for oxtail-eating? I would pay for one of those...


aline said...

Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

Meat Seafood Disply

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