I went into Macy's thinking I wanted to replace my George Foreman Grill. Anyone familiar with my cooking obsession knows I'm a big advocate of this thing. As I was wandering around the heavenly area called the cellar, I stumbled across a find I would never have guessed....a crockpot. For 19 bucks.
My last crockpot was at least ten dollars more, was way smaller and after years of use lost the handle on the lid and had a brown haze that can't be scrubbed out. For 19 bucks? It's time to replace it.
So I brought it home, and let it sit on the floor for a couple days while I contemplated what to do with it. It's summer, not exactly crock pot season. But I love these things because it's really all about being liberal and combining flavors rather than recipes.
The Flavor Bible, which is a great book that helps me pair seasonings and flavors with food suggests flavors like allspice, anise, bay leaf, garlic, shallots, and thyme to name a few. You could also take a different route entirely and base the stew on Asian flavors like soy sauce, sesame, ginger and garlic, and mirin (Japanese cooking booze).
So here's my off the cuff version of Ox Tail stew (I would like to point out here, that I used to have a tremendous aversion to Ox tails. Always felt like it was too close to the business end of the cow for my taste. I'm over it - I suggest everyone get over it...);
Oxtails - I used about 3 lbs with the intent to freeze a couple portions (if I can stop taking a bite every time I walk by)
1 can diced tomatoes - because they happen to be sitting on the counter
Beef stock - I happen to have a concentrate in the fridge, with just a spoonful left but any kind of stock is fine
Several cloves of garlic
Several cloves of garlic
Various herbs - I used a mix called Herbs de Provance, added a bit of fennel, some cardamom and a handful of pepper corns.
If you have temperature options, use high here if you intend to eat that night, low if you're planning on cooking overnight.
Depending on size of your slow cooker, pour in enough liquid to cover the bottom by about half an inch. You don't want to fill the pot first because you risk over flow once you add other ingredient. Well unless you like cleaning up messes in which case, have at it.
Add the rest of the ingredients - don't worry about the order, or mixing or blending, just add them evenly across container so everything gets seasoned.
That's it. You're done. Just walk away now and let it cook. Depending on your slow cooker, you should be able to eat the ox tails in as little as four hours. I let mine cook for 5 hours, then turned the heat down to low and let it go on over night (that's right, ox tails for breakfast! with a poached egg no less - think steak and eggs).
This brew is also a great place to add root vegetables - parsnips for example, whole onions, potatoes, carrots - thing of things that grow underground for this dish, hearty rib sticking veggies! (which I didn't add because they're high in carbs and I'm still being obnoxious about my diet.) Consider adding the veggies in the last hour to two hours to avoid having them dissolve completely in the stew.