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A big, meaty braise with a root vegetable risotto isn’t a very summery dish, but it was delicious, so I’m posting about it.  We have been doing a meat CSA through Marin Sun Farms and they offered some great deals on some unusual cuts of meats.  I’ve never made oxtails, so I thought I’d give it a go.  I found some lovely baby turnips at the farmers market and thought they’d be a nice match.

The oxtails were amazing.   I should have followed advice online however and made them 24 hours in advance.  They were quite greasy the first night.  When we reheated leftovers the following night, we scraped off some of the fat that had risen to the top and they were a million times better.  With that in mind, this is a great make-ahead dish.  That said, it’s really messy and there’s no way to eat this without using your hands, so it’s probably not the best for dinner parties, you know, the types of things you need make ahead dishes for.

The turnip risotto was brilliant, if I do say so myself.  The turnips gave up their starch, making the risotto super creamy, and it had a great bite to it, which complemented the beef nicely.  Since the greens on the turnips were so gorgeous, I steamed them and served them up with the dish.  Because the dish was so rich, the bitter greens really complimented it nicely.  If you can’t find turnips with good looking greens still attached, chard would work well.

Braised Oxtails

I just followed a bunch of suggestions online and improvised.  They are pretty hard to screw up.  To make them, heat a bit of olive oil in a heavy pan and add the oxtails in batches.  Brown on all sides and remove.  Add some diced onion, shallots, garlic, and carrot and saute for a couple minutes.

Add a bottle of red wine and some beef stock.  Add a bouquet garni if you’d like or a few bay leaves.  Place the oxtails back in.  They should be covered completely by the liquid.  Cover and place in the oven at 300 for 3-4 hours.  You may want to pull it out every hour or so and check the liquid levels and just add a bit more wine or stock if it looks like its drying out.  When its finished, the oxtails should be tender and falling off the bone.  If there’s too much liquid, just remove the oxtails and simmer down a bit.

If you want to let it sit overnight (which I highly recommend), I’d pull the oxtails out and store them separately from the sauce.  Chill in the refridgerator overnight and the next day, skim off the fat from the sauce.  Place the oxtails back into the liquid and warm in the oven until they reach the desired temperature.

Turnip Risotto

Chop 6 small turnips into a 1/2 inch or so dice.  You want about 1 1/2 cups.  Dice a couple shallots up too.

Bring a pot of water or broth to a boil.  You want about 6-7 cups in there.  Heat olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat and add the shallots.  Saute for a few minutes, until the shallots start to brown.  Add the turnips and saute for another minute or two.  Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice and stir it in until it is coated with oil and slightly translucent.

Add about 1/3 of a cup of white wine and stir.  After that is absorbed, add broth one or two ladles at a time, stirring and simmering.  When each ladle of broth is just absorbed, add another.  This should take about 20-25 minutes.  When all the water is just about absorbed and the rice is tender, stir in a pat of butter and grate in about 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Steamed turnip greens
Place the turnip greens in a steamer and steam for a minute or two.

To serve, spoon the risotto into a bowl and top with the greens.  Place the oxtails on the side and drizzle some of the oxtail sauce over everything.

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