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Oxtail Stew

Succulent beef that fell of the bone, earthy vegetables, a decadent sauce… You’d think we were describing a restaurant, but that’s how Chef Zach’s oxtail stew came out tonight!  There is some planning and prep work, but there’s also lots of time to spend waiting around.  Fill the wait time with catching up on a good book, clearing out the DVR, or knocking out a few chores.

oxtail stew

oxtail stew

Makes 3

1 1/2 to 2 lbs. of oxtail, whatever it is for 6 bones

3 cups of beef broth

2 cups of red wine

3 carrots

About 15 tri-colored mini potatoes

1 small white onion

2 celery stalks

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour

4 strips of bacon

3 garlic cloves

2 tbs. of tomato paste

2 tsp. of dried thyme

1 tsp. of cracked black pepper

2 tsp. of Lawry’s seasoning salt

Salt to taste

Peel and slice the carrots in 1/4″ coins.  Dice the onions and celery also to 1/4″ pieces.  Peel and finely mince the garlic.  Season the flour with the Lawry’s seasoning salt.  Cut the potatoes into halves, then each half into quarters, then transfer to a bowl of water for the time being.

Heat a dutch oven on the stove over medium heat.  Cut the bacon into 1/4″ pieces and cook in the dutch oven until rendered of fat and crispy.  While the bacon is cooking, put the seasoned flour in a sealable storage bag along with the oxtail.  Toss the oxtail so that each piece is coated in flour.

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Remove the bacon from the dutch oven, leaving the fat; set aside the bacon for now.  Add the oxtail to the dutch oven, still over medium heat.  Brown all sides of each piece.  Remove the oxtail and set on a plate for the moment.  Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the carrots, onions, celery, and garlic.  Cook until all the vegetables are starting to turn roughly caramelized and soft, roughly 12 minutes and stirring frequently.

before the 3-hour simmer

before the 3-hour simmer

Add the tomato paste, thyme, and black pepper and cook for 1 minute more.  Add the beef broth and red wine, and bring back to a simmer.  Put the oxtail back into the mix, including any juices that accumulated on the plate.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 3 hours, stirring occasionally flipping the oxtail pieces half-way through.

After 3 hours, drain the potatoes from the water, and add them to the dutch oven.  Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes uncovered so that the sauce thickens a little.  Taste for desired saltiness during this final cooking stage.

Serve 2 bones per person with lots of veggies, plus grits or fry bread.

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Shrimp Egg Foo Young with Gravy

Egg foo young/yung/yong, regardless of spelling, is one of Zach’s favorite Chinese dishes.  It is incontrovertibly light, filling, and satisfying at once.  The one trade off, for enjoying the luxury of this being fairly healthy and nutrient rich, is that it requires lots of attention to make.  For much of the cooking time, you will be glued to the range, but the tastes are tremendously tantalizing, enough to make you think twice the next time you consider going out for Chinese.

Serves 2-3

1/2 lb. of peeled and deveined shrimp

2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth

5 eggs

10 brown mushrooms

1 cup of mung bean sprouts

1 cup of shredded green cabbage

1 medium carrot

half of one white onion

1/2 cup to 1 cup of peanut oil (for frying)

1/2 cup of chopped green onion

3 tbs. of oyster sauce

3 tbs. of soy sauce, divided in 1 tbs. and 2 tbs.

2 tbs. of cornstarch

2 tbs. of minced garlic, divided in 1 tbs. and 1 tbs.

2 tbs. of rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. of ground ginger

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F, and line a sheet pan with cloth or paper towels.  Slice the mushrooms to about 1/4″ thick, cut the carrot into matchsticks, and chop up the onion in quarter-size pieces.  Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl.

onion and mushroom in the wok

onion and mushroom in the wok

Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium heat.  Add 2 tbs. of oil, wait 1 minute, then add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes, still stirring constantly.

all the veggies

all the veggies

Add the mung bean sprouts, 1 tbs. of soy sauce, and 1 tbs. of garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly even still.  Add the cabbage and carrot, and stirring constantly, cook another 2 minutes.  Transfer the vegetables to a large plate or sheet pan to let cool.

succulent shrimp

succulent shrimp

Wipe the wok or saute pan (no need to deep clean).  Return it to the stove, and heat over high heat.  Add 1 tbs. of oil, wait 30 seconds, then add the shrimp.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly, until they have turned pink.  Set aside on the same plate or sheet pan as the vegetables.

one at a time

one at a time

Wipe the wok or saute pan again.  Return to the stove, and heat over medium heat.  Add 1/2 cup of oil, and it heats, add the rice wine vinegar to the eggs in the mixing bowl and whisk briskly until combined.  Mix in the vegetables and shrimp.  Once the oil is heated and the eggs, veggies, and shrimp are mixed, add 2 ladle-fulls to the wok or saute pan to make 1 omelet.  Cook on each side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown (no more stirring constantly).  Let rest on the towel-lined sheet pan in the oven to keep warm as you cook the other omelets.  If the oil decreases through the cooking process, add more when necessary.

Once all the omelets are cooked and waiting in the oven, drain the oil from the wok or saute pan, save 1 tsp.  Heat on medium-high heat, then add the remaining garlic and let cook only 20-30 seconds before adding the chicken broth, oyster sauce, the remaining 2 tbs. of soy sauce, and ginger.  Put the cornstarch in a small bowl or mug and add just a little water, no more than a few tbs., to make a slurry before adding it to the wok or saute pan.  Let simmer for about 2 minutes so that the gravy slightly thickens, stirring occasionally.

shrimp egg foo young

shrimp egg foo young

To plate, spoon some gravy over each omelet before sprinkling a few chopped green onions.

Potato Corn Chowder

The first two days of August being back at the front of her classroom have already taken a minor toll.  Out of habit after a long summer break, she is exhausted and forgot to bring lunch!  Zach thought he’d do some double duty, making a big pot of potato corn chowder for dinner tonight as well as for lunch for several days.  It’s simple, hearty, and easy to heat up as leftovers, so 10 servings of soup will be eaten quicker than we realize.

Makes 10 servings

5 cups of peeled and diced Russet potatoes

4 cups of chicken broth

2 cups of fresh corn, cut off the cob

1 1/2 cups of Straus Family Creamery heavy whipping cream

8 oz. of Applegate Natural Sunday bacon

8 oz. of shredded pepper jack cheese

1 cup of diced sweet white onion

1 cup of shredded carrot

3 tbs. of all-purpose flour

1 tbs. of freshly chopped garlic

1 1/2 tsp. of dried thyme

1 tsp. of ground white pepper

Chop the bacon into 1/4″ pieces, and render in a large thick-bottomed pot or dutch oven.  Cook on medium-low heat until the meat is crisp and there is no visible white, rubbery fat.

onions and bacon fat

onions and bacon fat

Remove the bacon from the pot and drain in a bowl with paper towels to soak up the grease.  Add the diced onion to the bacon fat in the pot and cook over medium heat until soft and caramelized, about 7 minutes.   Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Add the flour to the onion and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently so that the flour makes a paste with the bacon fat and onions.

with broth and seasoning

with broth and seasoning

Add the chicken broth, thyme, and pepper, and bring to a light simmer.  Add the potatoes and reduce heat to medium-low.

fresh veggies

fresh veggies

Cook for 10 minutes, then add the carrot and corn.  Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender.

creamy and rich

creamy and rich

Stir in the cream and 6 oz. of the cheese (saving 2 oz. for garnish).  Sprinkle bacon and the remaining cheese over the top in a serving bowl.  Serve with your favorite bread and  a salad.

potato corn chowder

potato corn chowder