Let's face it we've all told our share of little white lies; untruths with good intentions. I find myself having to tell more and more of these lies everyday when it comes to food. It seems that a lot of people have what I refer to as food phobias. By this I mean they are totally against a certain food for no apparent reason other than it's not the norm.
Take for example oxtail. It's not a common cut of meat, so people tend to shy away from it. Oxtail is basically the tail meat of a beef animal. If you eat beef you really shouldn't have any issues eating oxtail, right? Well that's often not the case. As soon as some hear the word oxtail they cringe. "I can't eat that," they say. Well why the hell not? Have you even tried it? I think what bothers me most about people with a food phobia is that they aren't even willing to try the food. They automatically dismiss it as being nasty without even tasting it.
This past weekend a neighbor and his wife came over for dinner. I really wanted to make a braised oxtail ragu; but wasn't sure what their reaction would be. I consulted with my neighbor and he insisted I make it but not tell his wife what it was. We planned to just tell her it was shredded beef. Hence the little white lie.
I made the ragu and some homemade parpadella to go with it. My neighbor's wife couldn't say enough good things about the meal, especially how tender and tasty the "beef" was. By the end of the evening my neighbor decided it was time to come clean. We told his wife that the ragu was actually made from oxtail. She couldn't believe it. She was a little disappointed that we lied to her but admitted she wouldn't have tried it if we had told her it was oxtail.
Moral of the story: Sometimes we need little white lies to help us overcome our phobias and start really enjoying food.
Braised Oxtail(adapted from Lidia's Italian American Kitchen, Lidia Bastianich)Ingredients
2 1/2 lbs oxtail
6 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded
1 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup of fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups dry white wine
1 35 ounce can plum tomatoes
3-4 cups chicken stock
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Soak the oxtails in cold water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and pat dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat olive oil in a wide, heavy pan over medium heat. Add as many oxtail pieces as fit without crowding into the pan. Cook, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Stir in the onions, carrots, celery, parsley and garlic. Season lightly with slat and pepper and cook stirring until the vegetables are wilted, about 4 minutes.
Pour in the wine and bring to a vigorous boil. Cook until the wine is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and their liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is a lively simmer, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Tuck the oxtail into the sauce and cook until they are very tender, about 3 hours. As the oxtail cook add the chicken stock, about 1/2 cup at a time, to keep the level of the liquid more or less steady during cooking.
Skim any excess fat from the sauce. Remove all meat from the bones, shred it coarsely and return it to the sauce. This can be prepared and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance.
Cook pasta according to directions. Top with sauce and serve immediately with some grated Parmesan.