Memories are fickle things. I find we often recall otherwise…
If a year ago you brought up the topic of nose-to-tail eating with me, I would have likely thundered forth with a hue and cry that when uttered would sound something like “EEEEWWWWWWWW.”
But, oh, how this palate of mine has matured in the last six months since adopting AIP. On an almost weekly basis, I can be heard inquiring at the butcher, “Do you have any beef heart today? How about chicken livers? Oxtail?” Yep, beef heart, chicken livers, and oxtail are my go-to trifecta of nose-to-tail/organ meats because they’re so offal, they’re good!
When I first committed to AIP, like most people, I turned to Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach. In those early days of learning about and transitioning to AIP, I was struck by the import of ingesting protein as a way to promote healing. This sentence from The Paleo Approach really resonated with me: “Protein is required for healing, and the easiest way for the body to heal is if all twenty amino acids are consumed in the diet” (89). Ballantyne then goes on to explain that consuming that whole spectrum of amino acids can be accomplished by eating animal foods, of course, but more specifically, by eating every part of the animal.
There’s no denying it, kids. We just can’t beat the tremendous nutrient density of organ meats. They give us a whole lot of bang for our buck nutritionally, and, actually, economically as well because not many people are jonesing for kidneys and tripe (I’m certainly not that hard core), and so offal is relatively cheap.
A lot of our hang ups with organ meat are cultural or ideological. And I get that. Goodness knows that I wasn’t an easy sell in the organ meat department, but I feel so much better (and this is reflected in my blood work) when I eat organ meat weekly. So from time to time I’ll experiment with different types of offal, and my new favourite is oxtail. Oh. My. WORD. Oxtail is terrifically tender and resembles the most melt-in-your-mouth roast beef.
So here’s my recipe for Oxtail Ragu, which goes wonderfully atop cauli mash and with a side of sautéed collards.
If the thought of eating offal leaves you squeamish, then I recommend you start with this recipe for all its glorious flavah flave. I promise. It just tastes like roast beef!
Oxtail Ragu (Paleo, AIP)
Recipe type: Main Dish
- 3 lbs oxtail
- 1 cup pure, unsweetened cranberry juice
- 2 cups water
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. fat of choice
- ½ large onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 Portobello mushroom, chopped
- Optional: 1 tbsp. arrowroot powder mixed with 1 tbsp. cold water
- Place the oxtail in a slow cooker. Add the 1 cup of cranberry juice, 2 cups of water, and 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar. Cook on high for four hours.
- Remove the oxtail from the slow cooker, pick off the meat, and set aside.
- Reserve the stock. In fact, you can set the stock in the freezer for about 45 minutes in order to more easily remove the fat.
- Add 2 tbsp. of fat to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Saute for about 7-8 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Add the mushroom and saute for a couple miutes more.
- Add 2 cups of reserved stock and the oxtail meat.
- Bring all contents of the pot to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
- You can add the optional arrowroot powder mixed with water at this point if you desire a thicker consistency. Stir until thoroughly mixed.