When we buy half or one-quarter of a grass-fed beef animal, the butcher shop always asks if I want any of the extras. They mean do I want liver, heart, tongue, oxtail, soup bones or suet. I always ask for 15 pounds of suet to feed the hungry winter birds. Otherwise, no to the extras. Yet, every time I collect my blast frozen beef, there is a free bag full of extras. I must have 15 pounds of liver in the freezer, and only the dogs eat it. Plus there is a heart, that I will have to thaw out and saw through (heart is a tough muscle) to feed to the dogs. This last beef order came with a lovely package of oxtail, oh joy.
I thawed out the oxtail to feed to the dogs, then decided to make soup with it since it was a nice, meaty cut. Tail meat can be stringy, it is long, well-used muscle. It needs extended, moist cooking to be edible and makes very hearty soup. Some cooks roast the tail before making it into soup, but that’s not really necessary. It will be tasty and tender with this recipe. People will not even realize the beef they are eating is from the tail, unless you tell them!
3-4 lbs meaty oxtail, thawed or fresh, cut in half or thirds to fit a 6 qt stock pot
3 quarts water
1 quart chopped tomatoes with the juice
1 tablespoon powdered onion
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon each celery salt, black pepper, oregano, marjoram, basil
Place all in the stock pot, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, simmer for 1.5 hours. The meat should be starting to fall from the bone. Remove the oxtail from the pot and set aside to cool. While the meat cools until it can be handled, add to the pot:
4 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 sticks celery, diced
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup pearled barley or farro
Remove the meat from the bones and cut into bite sized pieces. Return the meat to the pot. Cover and simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour until the veggies are tender.
Makes about 3-4 quarts.
Oxtail can be a fatty cut. If it is desired to remove the fat, cool the soup in the fridge overnight and remove the hardened fat from the top. Serve hot seasoned to taste with salt.