Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tortellini in blood

It's not blood, silly. It's broth, a rich broth of oxtail, red wine, tomato paste, and other secret ingredients (keep reading). Lunch was served promptly at two. I skillfully avoided breakfast and opted instead for two cups of joe and a plug of vino. I had sketched this dish out the night before. I had also prepared the broth. Here's the sketch:

In the sketch I forgot to put the imaginary tortellini into the imaginary soup bowl. If you look above, you will notice that I did not forget to put the actual tortellini into the actual soup bowl. Considering the case of the jitters that complicated my cooking foray this morning, I feel quite proud of that. Pictured below are the basic components of the broth:

The broth is everything. If you wanted to make this at home, you could easily skip making your own tortellini (I made cheese tortellini) and buy some store bought ones. That'd be fine. The Brussels sprouts are easy enough to blanch: you salt the hell out of some water, boil it, and blanch away. In this dish, the broth is everything.

Blood broth (again, not really blood):

basic components
Ox-tail (one big piece, two smaller pieces)
About a quarter cup of cabernet sauvignon (you could use merlot if you wanted to)
A couple heaping spoonfuls of tomato paste
Medium onion, 1 rib celery, 1 medium carrot
enough water to cover the bones

additional flavoring elements:
sprig rosemary, sprig thyme, bay leaf
3 dried chilies: sweet, medium, little hot one

even more flavoring elements:
quartered small-ish potato, 1 leek, a tiny bit of raw sugar, a couple jerks worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

brown the ox-tail pieces in a large pot in oil, if you are regular, "caramelize" them in oil, if you are sophisticated. If you have some dried oregano, toss some in.

After one side is good and browned, turn the pieces over and add the tomato paste. Cook the tomato paste in the hot oil until it is caramelized, too. It should turn a rusty color. Then you should pour the wine in (taking a plug for you).

The wine will make a big fuss when it hits the hot action. Let it cook and bubble and splurge for a bit, then pour cold water onto the fantastic puzzle of cooking action, enough to cover the bones and them some, and drop in the celery/carrot/onion; the herb package: bay, rosemary, thyme; the chili trinity. Bring this whole concoction to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Cook off the water until the biggest bone looks like a weird island in maroon sea. Check the carrots to make sure they are fully soft. When all the elements have had enough time to party together, pull the bones aside, and pass the rest through a fine sieve (a colander with cheesecloth will work, a skimmer will work; I used chinois). Transfer the strained broth to another pot, tie up some leeks, quarter a potato, and put those things into the broth along with the bones. Add some more water and simmer this down even longer; make an even taller island of the bones. Cool the broth, if you want to congeal the fat and clean it, or just keep it warm and nice. Finishing the broth, add some sugar and worcestershire if desired; salt and pepper to taste. Finito! It's about time.

Oh, I also added some kidney beans to the dish because I needed to dispense of them. That's it.
Oh, and serve with wine, and follow with red velvet cupcakes and Earl Grey tea. It's nice.

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