Got me some tail

Meaty goodness | December 29, 2012 | By

I just got the best book for Christmas.  I asked my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for a small paperback about cooking the odd bits of an animal, and what they got me was a gorgeous hard cover called “Odd Bits – how to cook the rest of the animal,” by Jennifer McLagan.

Odd bitsI had taken it out of the library before and tried to memorize parts of it, but luckily John and Janet rescued from my own frugality so that now I can actually cook from it.

Considering my blog interests, I should have taken the plunge and nabbed this book a long time ago.  But even if I didn’t cook dangerously and only ate chicken fingers (which sounds like adventurous animal parts, but…) I would still love reading this book.  It blends food history, with culture, with storytelling, with beautiful photography.  Love it.

Anyway, the ironic thing is that two nights before I received the book, I cooked the most dangerous cow part I’ve cooked to date without its help, which isn’t really saying much since the author describes how to prepare brains and udders and testicles and eyelashes.  Okay, maybe not eyelashes.  But after reading through what I could have been doing, I felt comparatively lame looking back on what I had done.  I cooked oxtail.



When my blog fingers start to get itchy, I’m always surprised at how easily it is to stumble across a food that’s blog worthy.  I always think to myself, “Well, better get myself down to T&T,” Toronto’s grocery store chain catering to global food interests, which would take at least two hours to do round-trip, and then I walk down my street to a local shop and find something that saves me the trouble.  I think I’ve only been to T&T once, but I probably think about it at least every week.  Toronto is awesome.

Anyway, I waltzed down to Rowe Farms with my stroller and found some nice locally raised oxtail.  Sure, I thought, “ew,” to myself, but I also knew that many cultures enjoy oxtail and so I shouldn’t be a chicken about it.  I tried not to look at doggy tails on the way home and Googled, “very best ox tail recipe,” which is often my strategy for finding good recipes.  Here’s the first blog recipe I came across:

Slow Cooker Caribbean Oxtails

  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 6 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed habanero pepper
  • 4 pounds oxtails
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cups chicken broth or water

Directions:  In a small bowl, mix the scallions, garlic, ginger, allspice, salt and habanero pepper together.  Rub the spice mix all over the oxtails, marinate for at least one hour to overnight.

IMG_2731Place the sliced onion on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place the thyme sprigs on top, then the oxtails.  Pour the broth over the oxtails, cover and cook on high for 6 hours.  IMG_2733When the oxtails are cooked, remove them from the slow cooker.  Remove the thyme stems from the liquid.  With a blender or food processor, carefully puree the sauce, then return it to the slow cooker, or pour it into a serving dish.  Return the oxtails to the sauce.

IMG_2738Results:  My house smelled delicious!  If you don’t cook but want to pretend like you do, make this to distribute the aroma through your house, order in, and secretly pitch the oxtail.  Everyone will think you’re a star.  If you decide to serve the oxtail though, people might guess that you’re not a culinary god/goddess.  Full disclosure – we weren’t in fine form for food sampling because we all had a touch of the flu on Christmas Eve this year, but I decided to cook it anyway before it went bad.  I tried a bite or two trying to be an impartial-yet-slightly-nauseous food scientist.  The seasoning was amazing, but the consistency of the oxtail wasn’t stellar.  It was a little like second-rate chicken wings – fatty and chewy without much meat.  I tried it again a few days later and my new frame of festive, healthy mind improved the result, but I still wouldn’t crave them.  Rating:  1 Yum

But the good news…  The good news is that I separated the meat and bones from the liquid (which was runnier than the “sauce,” impression the recipe gives) and used it as a rich stock for my famous roasted cream of mushroom soup, which might actually be Epicurious’ famous roasted cream of mushroom soup.  This rich, hearty base melded perfectly with the mushrooms, and I could use less cream due to the improved consistency over chicken stock.  Winner.  Here’s the bonus recipe:  Apologies that I forgot to take pictures.

Oxtail Roasted Cream of Mushroom Soup

Wine Pairing:  My favourite wine website suggests that Sauvignon Blanc pairs perfectly with mushroom soup, so I’ll go with the top-rated Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc 2009, Napa Valley, selling for $22.95 in Ontario.



  1. Leave a Reply

    Jackie Dale
    December 29, 2012

    Sounds… Interesting! Love the soup that you came away with though 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      December 29, 2012

      Thanks!! You should try the slow cooker recipe with another meat!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
    January 4, 2013

    I think it’s funny that you made Caribbean Oxtail . . . cause who doesn’t think about Ox when they think about the Caribbean. 😉

    I must confess I will probably not be making this, but I am oddly intrigued by beef tongue. What does your new book say about that?

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      January 4, 2013

      Yes, it’s hard to think of oxen roaming around on beaches, but I chose Caribbean oxtail because I know it’s a common Caribbean dish. I guess they’re roaming around there somewhere!

      The cookbook treats tongue as though it’s the hamburger of the odd bits world – ie. if you don’t want to try heart, substitute tongue in this recipe. I’m not too afraid of tongue for some reason, so I’ll give it a go eventually!

      • Leave a Reply

        Joanna @ Midwestern Bite
        January 4, 2013

        Really? This will be the new thing I’ve learned today. All that comes to mind when I think of Caribbean is Rum. Course I’ve never actually been to the Caribbean so maybe they do have lots of ox there! I should suggest to the Husband we find out in person. Just to be sure.

        • Leave a Reply

          Ann Allchin
          January 4, 2013

          He should take you to the Caribbean for sure! And he could buy you lobsters while you’re there as he and I were messaging about another time! Man, I’m sure he’s starting to love me (she says, as all of a sudden all communications with midwesternbite are mysteriously blocked)

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