Digging around in the freezer the other day, I came up with a package of oxtail. We aren't hard up for meat around here, so I tend to cruise right over oxtail, cow tongue, liver, and other such "variety meats", as the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook calls them. I made a mental note to use that oxtail as soon as we finished off whatever leftovers were in the refrigerator. Oxtail stew is really good.
This morning I retrieved the package, then put it in the microwave and punched the "thaw" setting for two pounds. I removed the thawed package of oxtails, opened it up, and thought, "This looks like it's from a bigger cow than we've butchered lately." I went to the trash and pulled the butcher wrap out to check the date it had been butchered: Would you believe 2011? I thought about my options. I could assume it was too old and throw it away, but I knew it wouldn't hurt us to eat it. However, I wanted it to taste good. Pork and chicken develop an off-taste and odor when cooked, if it's spent years in the deep freeze. It won't hurt you, but it's not fun to eat funny-smelling or tasting meat.
Since I don't think I've ever used beef quite this old, I decided to just give it a try; I told Cliff my plan, which was to go ahead and cook the meat in the Instant Pot for an hour, let it release the pressure naturally, and then taste-test it myself. He looked a little doubtful. But folks, there's no better flavored beef that oxtail that's been well cooked and I was primed for oxtail stew.
I couldn't find directions for oxtail in a stove-top pressure cooker, which would have gotten it cooked faster; so I got out the Instant Pot and set it to pressure-cook for an hour. When the pressure was down, I took off the lid and tasted it, and it was as good a flavor as any beef I've every had. I gave Cliff a taste; he agreed. It was still a little chewy though, so I gave it another fifteen minutes pressure and got perfection. I added potatoes, carrots, a little celery, an onion, some quick barley, then got a pint baggie of cooked black beans out of the freezer and added that. I can't wait to eat!
I didn't intend to go three days without blogging, but I've been just a little "off" and couldn't make myself do a blog entry. I think I'm back now. I felt perky enough that Cliff and I went on a walk in the pasture with Gabe. If you want to see a picture of pure energy and joy, you need to see Gabe when he can run free for a change. He circles all over the place at top speed, never getting too far out of our sights. It's quite rewarding. I wanted to get a picture of him running with autumn leaves in the background, but he runs so fast he blurs, in a picture. Cliff laughed when I told him I was going to try and get Gabe to sit for a picture, but the poor dog did his best considering he was at a distance from me when I gave him the command. It didn't turn out as well as I planned though... here's what I got:
Even sitting, he can't hold still. Oh, and most of the pretty leaves are up higher, not even in the shot. Oh well, I tried.
I pay dearly for the times I let him run free in the pasture. He comes back with stickers and stick-tights (otherwise known as beggar-lice) in his beard and on his legs and belly. By the time I'm done, there are a lot of them stuck to my clothes too. The process of combing all that mess out of the tangles isn't comfortable for him, so he puts up a bit of a fight, but we get it done. Then there's always the issue of dirty dog feet I must clean. But it's worth it to see him running wild and free, so happy to be doing what he loves.
I love my dog.
Yours truly, Donna