It sounds like the word “barbeque” and in fact is the original recipe from which all other barbeques are derived. It’s a Caribbean technique of slow cooking fatty meat with chillies and spices in a rich sauce. The technique made its way to Mexico and picked up additional chillies on the journey. The meat falls off the bone, the bones are discarded and the resulting meaty stew is then eaten with rice, on tacos, or stuffed into wraps of some kind.
The genuine flavour is much enhanced if you use genuine ingredients, of which the most important are the chillies. Try to get chipotles in adobo sauce (which are dried jalapeno, smoked then canned in a tomato based sauce) and dried ancho chillies if you possibly can. They are worth it, and the sauce is sensational, so I can promise you will make it again for your family and friends.
Serves 8 Timings: 1 hour preparation, 4-5 hours slow cooking, 1 hour final preparation
In a large heavy pan – a cast iron or Le Creuset pan is ideal, dry roast the dried ancho chilli for a few minutes, it will char slightly. Remove it to a small saucepan with the 500ml chicken stock and simmer as you cook the other items. Take off the heat as you start to cook the onions in the list below. If there is a large stalk on your ancho, remove it. The rest of the chilli will have become quite soft with the simmering.
In the heavy pan, brown the oxtails in some vegetable oil. Remove from the pan. Brown the pieces of shortrib on all sides, remove from the pan. Add the chopped onions, fresh chilli and garlic to the pan and fry gently to soften – don’t let them brown. Add the dried and powdered spices, stir to release the fragrance. Add the chipotle and sauce and cider vinegar. Stir up and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a blender along with the fish sauce and the ancho chilli and chicken stock. Blend the sauce until smooth.
Add the sauce to the meat either in a slow cooker or in a large oven casserole and tuck in the bay leaves. Cook on a low heat for 4-5 hours until the meat is very tender.
Allow to cool slightly, remove the meat pieces from the sauce one by one on to a plate. Use two forks to remove all meat from the bones, including the oxtail bones, and tear the meat into strings. Discard the bones.
The sauce in the casserole dish should be simmered for some minutes to reduce by half – to leave a thick spicy sauce. Return the meat to the pan, stir and warm through.
The meat can be portioned and frozen for later, and once cooked, it keeps a couple of days in the fridge.
A Hug from the Kitchen
Healthy, hearty, happy food, for good times and bad. Cheer yourself up, or spread the cheer around your family and friends.