In the wake of my Alsacian themed recipes, let's stay up there in Northern France, with one foot across the border, in Belgium.

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Now you may not be a big offal buff (un mordu d'abats), but oxtail is really not that bad. A few words of caution: when buying the pieces of meat, make sure you only take the part closest to the back of the animal (ie the meatier ones), and not the long skinny pieces that only have bone in them. You cannot get ANYTHING out of those bits, believe me I've tried. You can probably make broth with it, but frankly, at 10 euros a kilo we can't really afford that now can we (c'est un peu chérot non).

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Note that this recipe would work perfectly fine with stew meat. I'm thinking chuck. Or brisket.

For four people:
7 or 8 large slices of oxtail,
6 large carrots, cut in slices
4 big fat onions, cut in wedges
6 juniper berries,
a couple of thyme twigs and a few laurel leaves
65cl of dark Belgian beer
4 slices of pain d'épice (gingerbread loaf), roughly diced
two tsp of "vergeoise" - dark brown sugar
some beef stock (about a quart)
a knob of butter and a little oil

Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron pot, brown the meat on high heat with the butter and the oil. Make sure all sides get browned. Do it in batches if you can't fit everybody in one layer, and don't worry too much if it catches a little at the bottom. You're going to scrape up those good bits afterwards.

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Transfer the browned meat to a bowl. Brown the carrots and onions in the meat's juices. Easy peasy (les doigts dans le nez).

Then return the meat and the accumulated juces to the pan and deglaze with the beer (yes, and that's also where you scrape to bottom of your pan with that wooden spoon of yours).

Sprinkle with the dark brown sugar. Add the juniper, thyme and laurel, and the gingerbread dices. Mix well to combine, and simmer until the sauce has reduced by one third. The gingerbead will mush and disintegrate in two seconds in the beer and turn it into a thick sauce.

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Epiphany in a Staub pan. Classic.

Add the stock - you need to pour enough so that you cover the vegetables and the meat entirely. Bring back to a simmer, and forget about it for the next 3 hours. Go scrape the ice on your car windows or try to unlock your letterbox with a hairdryer. You could probably also stick it in the oven on low. If you wish you can just stop there, stick it on the window sill (unless you live in and reheat it on the day after. It's even better.

hiver

Blimey it's cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey (punaise, qu'est-ce qu'on se caille les miches).

Whenever you're ready, take the oxtail pieces out, and leave them until cool enough to handle. Pull the meat off the bones, and discard all the connective tissues (or put them in the dog's dish). Then it's up to you how you serve it. You could plate the meat in a bowl of paparedelle or spätzle (haha, Alsace strikes back!), and ladle the sauce and vegetables on top, or serve it along with big chunks of sourdough bread.

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Agreed, it looks pretty gross (ça a l'air dégueu). But gosh, man, you really *have* to stop being so superficial.