Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rabo de Toro a la Cordobesa (Cordoba style Oxtail)

  At my house when we cook oxtails it's a HUGE DEAL, my grandma, mom, dad, me, and little sister ALWAYS have to be present to cook this, we have to make sure everyone is at the house for dinner that day. Why? Well because it's our favorite cut of meat, it's rich, flavorful,moist, tender and produces a sauce that is out of this world.

     There are three ways we prepare oxtails in my family, one is in a type of Mexican soup we call "Caldo de Cola" which is simply the Mexican "Cocido de Res" (beef soup with a tons of vegetables) prepared with oxtails, the other is "Rabo Encendido Estilo Chino Cubano" it's one of my grandmother's creations I guess, it's braised in soy sauce & wine but with Cuban spices and sofrito....

    BUT and it's a BIG BUT lastly the way we ALMOST ALWAYS prepare it, for us the most delicious and favorite way is well the typical Cuban-Spanish "Rabo Encendido" in which the oxtails are browned and stewed in a Spanish/ creole tomato based sauce, that's almost always our go to recipe my grandmother taught me and my mother, but today I wanted something a little different (and honestly it's not so different that's why huge emphasis on "a little" I decided to prepare it "Cordoba" style, Cordoba is a city in Andalusia, Spain, it's practically the same as my grandmother's recipe, except the spice combination is a little different instead of using "cumin" it's replaced with sweet smoked spanish paprika & has the addition of cloves & saffron which is a nice little twist :)

-4 1/2 lbs. oxtails (washed and rinsed twice, drain and pat dry with paper towels)

-extra-virgin olive oil (as needed to cook/ sautee the aromatics/ vegetables)
-4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
-2 onions finely chopped
-1 green bell pepper chopped
-1 red bell pepper chopped
-1 yellow bell pepper chopped
-8- 12 head of garlic minced
-4 large ripe tomatoes or 8 oz. of a thick prepared tomato sauce or 16 oz. of a regular one

-3 bay leaves
-1 tablespoon "Pimenton de la Vera" (sweet SMOKED Spanish paprika)
-8 cloves (I grind them to a powder to not risk anyone biting into one)
-1 tsp ground black pepper 

-SALT to taste (atleast 1 1/2 tsp.)

Optional Ingredients:
-1 teaspoon saffron or other coloring powder (turmeric would work here goes well with smoked paprika, in Spain they have a powder called "Colorante Alimentario" it's an edible coloring powder, Cubans use one called "Bijol" made of ground annato seeds, or packets of Goya's "Sazon" with saffron or achiote, your choice, if you leave it out it's not a big deal)
-6 potatoes (peeled cut into large chunks)

(1) Heat a large deep pot over very very high heat, when it's real hot, to test it splash some water if the water turns to little pearls and bounces around before evaporating it's ready. Add your oxtail you'll hear a thundering sound sort of and a grilled smoked smell, stir oxtails occasionally and allow to brown all over (DO NOT ADD OIL) the oxtails will render some fat, this will take anywhere from 5- 10 minutes maybe longer.

(2) This creates a wonderful "fond" for de-glazing on the bottom of the pan and will add a smokey, meaty flavor. Now lower your heat, remove oxtials and set aside, in the same pan add carrots, onions, bell eppers, and garlic cook down for 5- 8 minutes until translucent scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

(3) Add your tomato sauce, 3 bay leaves, and spices (smoked paprika, cloves, and pepper) stir about 3 minutes to reduce. Add your red wine, and allow to reduce by half (the wine unlocks some flavor in the tomato that's only soluble in alcohol)

(4) Now add your oxtails and stir/ coat everything well together. Add enough water to BARELY cover oxtails, bring to a rolling boil over high heat,

cover, and reduce heat to medium low to low. Allow to simmer covered 3-4 hours. After 3 hours check for tenderness if you want it more tender cook longer.

(5) Once tender to your liking, add saffron if your using and potatoes, allow to cook an additional 30- 40 minutes until potatoes are tender and flavors meld. (add more water as needed this stew is NOT a soup, so make sure the sauce is not too thin)

(6) Serve with steamed white rice, a salad, and any other sides you may like :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Frijoles con Chile Guajillo (Pinto Beans with dried Guajillo peppers)

Beans and other type of legumes are a staple in my house along with rice (a day doesn't go by that I haven't eaten some type of bean dish and rice and I am damn proud of it because they are so healthy and good for you! Yup yup ;)

All three of my culinary backgrounds use beans in some way (from my Mexican side the humble pot of simple pot of boiled pinto beans, my Spanish and Cuban side the rich varied bean stews made with meats, sausages, and vegetables, or the Cuban staple of rice and black beans so yeah can't really avoid them hehe.

Anyways in Mexican Cuisine one of the staples is boiled pinto beans (usually just boiled with a few pieces of garlic, onion then salt to taste) however my friend Simon who's family is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico prepares the beans by boiling them with dried Guajillo peppers and a whole head of garlic. The guajillo peppers gives them a nice smokey earthy taste, and the whole head of garlic well the delicious flavor of garlic most are familiar with :) Thank Simon and his sister Liz for teaching me yet another way of enjoying beans :D

-1 lbs. dried pinto beans, or peruano beans, or flor de mayo beans
-4 dried chile guajillos (stem removed and seeds shaken out) or you can substitute with dried "Chile Nuevo Mexico" or "Chile California"
-1 whole head garlic
-salt to taste (I use about 1 1/2 teaspoons or more to taste)

(1) Put all ingredients EXCEPT the salt in pot (do not put the salt until the beans are tender because they will never be as tender as they should), cover with enough water to submerge them 2-3 inches in water.

 (2) Bring beans to a boil using high heat, then when they come to a rolling boil, cover and turn heat down to medium low. When beans are tender and salt to taste allow to boil an additional 5-10 minutes. Then turn off heat & discard/ throw away the chilies and onion (their flavor has already infused into the beans)
(1) Don't get any bright ideas and puree the garlic after boiled and strain it into teh stock, the garlic boiled whole gives a nice mild taste, but if pureed and added back HELL NO! it'll be tooooo overpowering.

(2) My mother likes to throw away the garlic after it's boiled in there and the beans are done, but she blends the dried peppers and strains them back into the beans, it's her twist on my friends recipe and I love the taste it get's that way :)