I have decided to make January a celebration of COW and have redubbed it “Beefuary.” You can have a look ahead and see that I have planned three weekends of Cow Party at my house. The last weekend of the month I am going out of town and would not DREAM of nineteenth-centurying it up at the house I am visiting.
Beefuary started with a bang, which surprised me, because I figured stewed oxtails  would be fairly innocuous. I bought them at the HT Market up at Oaktree, which I figured would have them fresh. The labeling said that they were fresh, but then I saw some other cut of meat that was labeled “fresh” when it was clearly half-frozen. I was also sad that I got one of my very favorite things, mochi with adzuki filling, and the adzuki paste was so dried out it was inedible. I would say this has gone from one to my favorite markets to being pretty hit and miss, and mostly reliable for dried goods. The oxtails looked okay, and they smelled good on opening.
Beeton’s called for simmering the oxtails for two-and-a-half hours with herbs and a sliced onion, which, curiously, was required to be cut into rings. In this regard it was an easy meal. I threw in what I had on hand, which was fresh sage, bay, oregano, and thyme and dried cloves. I decided to really make the oxtails the focus of the meal and only serve one side dish–Spinach Dressed with Cream, a la Francaise .
Mostly this meal involved me sitting around, which was okay with me. I had a couple of bunches of dodgy spinach in the fridge, which seemed appropriate somehow. I imagined the scullery maid in dim lighting sorting through sad spinach pre-the invention of the refrigerator as we know it now. I still ended up with a substantial pile.
Near the end of the oxtail stewing, I cooked the spinach. Ten minutes in boiling water, followed by a thorough chopping, with more cooking in the cream with a Victorian staple included–nutmeg. I think it actually called for mace blades, but in many stores it is hard to find ground mace, so I have broken down and ordered blades online this week.
The next part of the instructions told me to remove the oxtails, which had become sort of congealed browny blobs, and strain the seasonings out of the broth. Then I was instructed to create a “thickening” of butter and flour, which I assumed meant cooking up a small roux. I whisked this into the broth, which didn’t really thicken up, but only got a little cloudy. I served the oxtails in a bowl swimming in the broth, with the creamed spinach, which was horrendously oversalted per the recipe.
In one way, the oxtails were amazing and delicious. Since oxtails are slippery and mostly fat, I soon abandoned any pretense of mannerly eating with a knife and fork and picked each one up and munched it like ribs. The meat itself was amazing, completely imbued with beefiness and the flavor of the herbs they were stewed with, and falling off the bone. I had pulled puff pastry out of the freezer, rolled it, snipped it with kitchen scissors, and twisted them and brushed them with beaten egg before baking them. These were amazing dipped in the broth. The spinach, of course, was hideous, due to being overcooked and salted.
At the end I was stuffed. I put the children to bed and that was it. The pineapple fritter recipe became apple fritters  since my pineapple did not come in my grocery order. I had absolutely no motivation to press onwards to dessert. The fritter batter stayed in the fridge overnight and congealed horribly, and the apples continued macerating in lemon juice and rum. I passed out, and woke up at two a.m. with a vicious stomachache and felt like I was about to blow my groceries.
The next morning my maid of all work reported the kitchen was a disaster, and commenced to mopping it immediately. We were not right for the next couple of days. I am hoping for better results this weekend when I make beef marrowbones, which I have done before and am looking very forward to.