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Grandma Aki's Oxtails

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Grandma Aki's Oxtails
From The Great American Meat Book (Canada, UK), by Merle Ellis.

This delicious oxtail dish comes not from my Midwestern side of the family but from my wife's Hawaiian grandmother. They raise a lot of cattle in Hawaii, too.


1 large or 2 small oxtails (2-1/2 to 3 pounds), cut into sections by cutting through the cartilage between the joints with a large kitchen knife
Water to cover for parboiling, plus 2 quarts for cooking
3 or 4 cloves star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp soy sauce


Put the oxtails in a good-sized pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, so that scum that can cloud the finished sauce rises to the surface. Drain the oxtails in a colander and rinse them and the pot with water.

Return the oxtails to the pot and add the 2 quarts of water, the star anise, and the cinnamon. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Add the pepper flakes, brown sugar, and soy sauce, cover, and continue simmering for 2 more hours, until the meat is tender and almost falling from the bone. Remove the oxtails to a serving platter. Turn the heat to high. Boil the sauce 4 to 5 minutes, until it has reduced by a third. The brown sugar causes the sauce to thicken to a rich, shiny gravy. Pour the sauce over the oxtails and enjoy. Don't try to be neat! Serve with rice or pilaf.

Yield: Serves 4.

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