There were four things my brother would eat growing up – pizza, plain McDonald’s hamburgers (completely plain, if there was so much as half a pickle on that puppy, we had to go right back), cherry cream cheese pie, and oxtail soup. Needless to say, I ate pizza with such sickening regularity that I became the only kid of all time to not like pizza. I’ve recovered. It’s taken years. Also, intensive therapy. Not really, but didn’t you just feel bad for me for a minute? I bask in the glow of others’ pity. Not really, but didn’t you actually feel bad for me for a minute? I’ll quit playing with your emotions.
I’ve been skipping around in the Like Water For Chocolate recipes mainly because I don’t keep things like turkey stock or roses around all that often. Also, I don’t need a wedding cake just now. I mean, I’ll eat one. Don’t get me wrong. This will happen. I’ve just been postponing that one until I feel my most pitifully single. Let’s say a Saturday night in my jammies when I’ve applied a face mask, because you know, that’s the kind of particular pathetic that you don’t do around other people unless you accept the fact – “This person will never have an iota of romantic interest in me so it’s ok to glop weirdly colored things on my face in front of them we’re just that ok with each other, but, you know, not romantically.”
Wow, I’ve gotten far afield from oxtail soup. So, anyway, the oxtail soup of my youth I steered clear of, but since my brother wouldn’t ever eat green beans (even in soup), or chiles, this is a very different animal from the soup of my youth. This is Tita’s soup. And it’s very, very good. Despite what Todd says. Todd says, “Pretty good.”
There are some pretty specific measurements in the book, but meh. This is soup. Here’s what you’ll need:
oxtails (I bought about a pound, for 4.89 apparently)
1 onion, small dice
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 large potato or several small ones, medium dice. (Yukon gold would have been good. Couldn’t find them.)
1 large handful of green beans, medium dice
4 morita chiles, rehydrated in hot water and chopped fine (you could sub in chipotle in adobo for this. Moritas are hard to find outside of a mexican market)
1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes, squished (The recipe calls for 4 tomatoes, but tomatoes are only good in the summer, maybe not in Mexico, but here, in the winter, canned is so much better than fresh, let’s just count that as my missed Monday soap box ok I am done now. Also, squished is the technical term. Ahem.)
salt and pepper to taste
First, toast chiles in a dry pan. Remove stem and as many seeds as desired, depending on how how hot/spicy you want your soup. Bring water to a boil, and then pour water over chiles to rehydrate for 10-15 minutes. Make sure chiles are fully submerged. Remove chiles and chop fine. Reserve water.
Preheat pan on medium high and season both sides of the oxtails.
Once pan is hot, add enough veg oil to cover the bottom. Sear oxtails on both sides until deeply browned.
Remove oxtails from pot and add onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until translucent and softened and then add potatoes and a heavy pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned. (Deglaze with chile water as needed). Add green beans and another pinch of salt,
and cook another 2 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add garlic and chiles and cook for 1 minute to open up the flavors.
Add tomatoes and one more tiny pinch of salt.
Put oxtails back in. Cover with water (I tried chicken stock but it just obscured the oxtail flavor). Bring to a boil, reduce immediately to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour or until flavors have cohered.
Remove oxtails. Taste for seasoning. Should be about right with all that consistent salting you did. Adjust. Eat.
Someday, I’ll try making my Mom’s recipe and see which I like better. No offense, Mom, but I think I’m going to like Tita’s better. Don’t worry, my Mom doesn’t read this blog.