I found the perfect bones...and my new favorite soup: oxtail!
Oh yes…it was a bit of an accident, but a happy one at that…I found the perfect bones for GAPSTM stock! I found the perfect bones for a nutrient-dense stock! I was in my local butcher shop, my local grass-fed only butcher shop and there they were…on the top shelf, calling to me. But first things first. What is GAPSTM and what is the perfect stock for GAPSTM? I call GAPSTM a healing protocol. Short for the Gut and Psychology Syndrome, it aims to heal the gut lining and cure all sorts of dis-eases in the body including Autism, ADD, AD/HD, Aspberger’s, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, depression, allergies and auto-immune disorders. I have been making stock for a long time, and GAPSTM stock, or stock you make for yourself when you are on the GAPSTM diet is a special kind of stock to me. I will endeavor to explain.
When you make “bone broth”, or “nutrient-dense stock”, your goal is a volume of gelatinous stock (or a demi glace, but that is not usual.) Bones and vegetables are discarded after a long “rolling” or simmering…often 40-60 hours or more. When you are making GAPSTM stock, there are five things you are looking for: the stock, gelatin, tendons, meat and fat. You make the stock so that you may drink it or use it as the base of soups and stews. You may eat the gelatin in cubes if the stock is made well, just like jello! (Believe it or not, that red dye no. 5, high-fructose corn syrup laden cherry jello they serve to convalescing patients in hospitals has its origin in real gelatin from real stock! It is a truly healing food! How far we have digressed…) You are also to eat the tendons, the meat and the fat. It takes a special kind of bone to give you tendons, meat, and fat. And I have found it. The ox tail. (The bison tail works, too.)
Ox tails or bison tails make the best stock because they give everything you need: stock, gel, cartilage and tendons, meat, and fat. And oh, do they give FLAVOR.
So back to my story. A package of ox tail called to me from the top shelf of the refrigerator. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. Rich, red meat, beautiful white fat throughout, and lots of cartilage and tendons. I salivated as I saw it and I salivate as I write now.
I had never made oxtail soup or oxtail broth. I had never seen oxtail. I remember having oxtail soup when I was young, but when I asked mom about it the other day, it was a packaged soup mix. So I was on my own.
I consulted some cookbooks and then decided to strike out on my own…and it was tremendous. Stupendous. Unbelievably delicious. Deeply nourishing. The whole family delighted in it. My six year old said his “tummy was dancing” it was so happy. It was “the best soup I ever made”. Soooooooooo on to the recipe.
Oxtail is so heavy in fat, that you will have to cool it before you use it in a soup. So it’s a two step process, like any other good soup. Make the stock and then make the soup. But you’ll be saving and eating much of what you made the stock with.
Recipe I: Oxtail Stock
2 pounds of oxtail or bison tail, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
You may choose to brown the oxtail before you make the stock. This will serve to intensify the flavor and color of your stock. Variation 1: Place the oxtails on a sheet pan and bake in a 350 F oven for 30-45 minutes, or Variation 2: melt some tallow, lard, or pastured butter in a skillet and brown both sides of the oxtail.
If you brown the oxtail, be sure to scrape all the juices and fat into the pan. Do not discard them.
So put the oxtail into a 6-8 quart Dutch oven and cover with water. Add the vegetables. Bring to a boil, skim and discard the scum. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 20 hours.
Strain and cool. Reserve all the meat and discard the vegetables. Chop the meat and fat and tendons and keep in a bowl or container while the stock cools. (Note: this step may take several hours or overnight in order to allow the fat to cool and harden.)
When the stock has cooled, take off the layer of fat and reserve for cooking (or adding back in to the oxtail soup when you make it.)
Recipe II: Oxtail Soup
2-3 quarts oxtail stock (or beef stock if you don't have oxtail stock)
2-3 carrots, finely diced
2-3 celery ribs, finely diced
1-2 medium potato or turnip, finely diced
thyme, about 2 tsp dried or 2 T fresh
Celtic salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper
cayenne pepper, pinch
port or brandy, 2 T, (optional)
tomato paste, organic, about 3 T
reserved oxtail meat and fat
Place everything into a soup pot except the tomato paste, optional port and meat. Bring to a boil and skim and discard scum. Lower to a simmer and cover. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
Add tomato paste and stir until incorporated. Add optional port and meat and allow to heat through, about 4-5 minutes.
Serve with prepared horseradish, fresh ground pepper and sea salt. You may wish to add a tablespoon of fermented ketchup to your bowl just prior to that first bite! I did!
Hints: Grow Your Soup!
So you've enjoyed your first night of oxtail soup (or any other stock based soup) and there is a bit left, but not enough for another meal. Add more stock-oxtail or beef in this case- and a bit more tomato paste and thyme. It will not be as thick, but it will taste as good!
Another hint: if you need a hearty second meal, add some soaked wild or brown rice to the hint above. Now you've got a stew!