Roman-Chinese Oxtail Stew
ROMAN-CHINESE OXTAIL STEW SERVES 6
Italian and Chinese home cooking share many similarities: While it may not be obvious, both cultures have a love of offal, such as tripe and liver, and so this oxtail-based dish perfectly fuses the two traditions on one plate. I simmer the oxtails in a combination of classic Italian ragù ingredients like red wine and tomatoes and Chinese flavors like soy sauce and bean paste. I like to serve this saucy dish over thin spaghetti, or a nice crusty ciabatta would also work well for sopping up the extra sauce.
3 pounds beef oxtail pieces, cut into about 1 ½-inch slices (ask your butcher to do this for you)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, smashed
6 star anise pods
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup fruity red wine
2 tablespoons sugar (preferably Chinese rock sugar)
3 tablespoons broad bean paste (doubanjiang)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1 to 2 cups chicken broth
3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium potatoes, such as Yukon Golds, peeled and cut into eighths 4 scallions (green and white parts), chopped
1 pound cooked thin spaghetti, or crusty ciabatta bread, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the oxtail pieces and simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain the oxtail pieces and rinse them under cold running water. Rinse out the pot and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. When the oil is sizzling, add the onion and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then add the oxtail and stir-fry until they are lightly browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the star anise, soy sauce, red wine, sugar, bean paste, and pepper and simmer for 2 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the pan to the empty pot. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of the chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil; then reduce the heat to a simmer and skim o any excess fat or oil. Cover the pot and simmer, skimming occasionally, for about 2 ½ hours, until the oxtail meat is nearly falling off the bones.
Add the celery, carrots, potatoes, and scallions. If the mixture is too thick to stir, add another cup of broth. Cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
If using, divide the noodles among 6 dishes. Pile 1 or 2 oxtail pieces in each dish, and ladle the vegetables and broth on top.
Note: This recipe yields plenty—enough for seconds! Leftovers will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating on the stovetop.