Beef Stew Appetizers
Baby Aria is a toddler now and even though I tend to feed her soft food, I still want her to experience the different textures and flavors each meal can bring. I prepared a beef stew, which she adored, but I still had a little meat left. So I shredded it with a fork, formed little mounds and used them for appetizers.
I always have extra dough stored in my freezer (I used the same dough for my roasted butternut squash galette earlier this week). I formed little pockets by cutting rectangles of dough and pinching the edges with the back of fork. These little appetizers were so addictive that they were all gone in a jiffy.
Yields: 12 servings1 dozen large oxtails
4 teaspoons papaya paste (see tips)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 turnip, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 10-inch celery stalks, diced
1 bay leaf
1 bouquet garni
1 leek (white and green parts), thinly sliced
4 canned whole peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt
5 teaspoons sugar (optional), depending on how sweet the onions are
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
3 cups Cabernet Sauvignon (or any red wine)
2 cups homemade beef stock, (or 16-ounce can)
3 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
4 (12 x 12") squares pastry dough
For the meat filling:
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a pot, soak the oxtails in about a quart of water with 1 tablespoon of salt overnight. The next day, rinse the bones, place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water. Rinse the meat under running water and set aside. Pat dry.
Transfer the oxtails to a baking pan. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 425°F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 275°F and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the gravy. Preheat a slow cooker (set on low mode, cook time "2 hours"). Note: You could also make the meat stew in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook until the meat is tender.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, leeks and bouquet garni. Cook on high heat until slightly golden. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add more oil if neccesary. Add the meat and allow to brown on each side. Transfer to the slow cooker as well and add the bouquet garni.
To the slow cooker, add the bay leaf, celery, carrots and turnips. Add beef stock, wine and ½ to 1 cup of water (it should go about one third the way up the oxtail bones), tomatoes, and papaya paste. Bring to a boil, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Season with salt.
Cover the slow cooker with a lid and let simmer for 4 hours (or 6 hours on the stove). Remove and discard the veggies. Remove the bones from the meat. Shred the meat using two forks: have the forks meet at the middle and pull in opposite directions to separate the beef. If the meat is very tender, it should pull apart easily; return the meat to the slow cooker. Cook for another 2 hours in the sauce. Let cool to room temperature.
Gather the shredded meat on a plate, removing as much liquid as possible. Add parsley.
Form (6 x 3") dough rectangles. Place a small amount of the shredded beef. Fold in half, crosswise, then seal and crimp the dough to fold over the side and create an indentation with the back of a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425°F, then lower the heat to 400°F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden.
Remove from the oven and let the appetizers cool down for about 15 minutes.
How to make a bouquet garni: The traditional bouquet garni is composed of a sprig of thyme (I used lemon thyme), 1 bay leaf (torn in half), 1 small portion of leek (only the green part), a few flat-leaf parsley stems and a small stalk of celery. Gather all the ingredients in a large teabag or in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with some twine. You can use it to flavor sauces and broths.
I used Cabernet Sauvignon from our friend at Alta Wines in Napa Valley.
You can easily find oxtails in any Asian market and the meat department of many supermarkets.
Papaya is a great meat tenderizer. This was Baji, Lulu's late grandma's secret for tender and moist meat. This is not an authentic ingredient for this French dish but I think it makes the meat more tender.Published By: on February 6, 2014.