As we transition from long summer days into cooler nights and the fall season, we also make a transition at the beef counter – shifting from the BBQ to braising meats, slow cookers and stews – in order to meet the seasonal demands of our beef consumer.
It’s a seasonal shift and one that I keep an eye out for. So, as soon as the weather trends cooler, I start prepping for roasts, and other common cuts of course, but making a strengthening and notable debut at the meat counter is a growing discovery and demand for oxtail.
The oxtail cut is exactly what we think it is, but the name throws people. In days of old, oxtail came from oxen – today it is simply the tail of the beef animal. Eating oxtails dates back as far as the consumption of beef when all of an animal was used and no part went to waste.
One of the most common uses for oxtail is in soups and stews. The meat falls off the bone and the flavour of oxtail is so unique and so good. Newly discovered and more commonly displayed at the beef counter, consumers have really embraced it and are finding new and creative ways to prepare this versatile superb beef product, from plated main course dishes to savory tarts.
The oxtail product comes to me as a tail – an extension of the backbone, segmented and held with connected tissue and typically weighs around seven to eight pounds. At the shop, I will cut it into sections at the joint and put it on end and display it that way. It is artistic in presentation and appealing to the eye and my customers gravitate toward it. They often haven’t seen it and they try it, really like it, and come back for more.
High in gelatin, oxtail is a superb and rich source of protein, which is why it is usually slow-cooked as a stew or braised, to bring out this distinctive cut’s robust, full-bodied flavour, while creating meltingly tender meat. The oxtail cut is one of the most versatile meats at the counter, with an irresistible aroma as it cooks, one that warms up the entire house. A welcome selection as we head into the fall season.