Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Super-Simple (and really fast!) Oxtails

Okay, fine. If you don't like oxtails, just look away. I happen to love them. My mom made them often when I was a kid, and I couldn't get enough of them.

They do look sort of ... dangerous and prehistoric and caveman-like, though. Which, I guess, is part of their appeal.

And there's really no delicate way to eat them. Sure, you can try to go at them with a fork and knife like a civilized person. I start that way with the larger pieces. But when I always end up picking up the bones and ... well ... slurping the rest of the meat off.

I guess I'm really not that civilized, despite living in a well-equipped cave.

Speaking of well-equipped, the latest toy to show up in my kitchen is the Instant Pot DUO 60. I got this little charmer through 37 Cooks, a group blog I belong to. I already had a pressure cooker (okay, fine. I have several), but I'd heard so many people swooning over the Instant Pot, I knew I had to give it a try.

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker and slow cooker, but it's got some special features as well that make it a little more foolproof for the average cook.

Like the buttons that are pre-sets for particular types of foods. No need to look up how long it takes to cook those basic items - you just press the button.

Or, if you want to cook something using your own recipe and timing, you just choose the manual function. Or sear. Or slow cook or warm. Or steam. Or whatever.

Did I mention that it has a lot of options?

It's no wonder people are crazy about this appliance. It does a lot.

Since the whole point of an Instant Pot is to make dinner fast and easy, I decided to create a super-easy recipe. I used a little cheat - a jar of sofrito. While in theory you can make your own sofrito, the one in a jar has a spice that I've never seen anywhere - culantro.

Nope, that's not a misspelling of cilantro. It's a different herb. It's sort of like cilantro, but it's not. Just like marjoram isn't oregano.

Oxtails with Sofrito

3 pounds oxtails, trimmed of excess fat
1 onion, diced
1 12-ounce jar Goya sofrito

1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Place all ingredients in your Instant Pot. Put the cover on and make sure the knob is set for sealing and not for venting.

Press the "meat/stew" button and make sure it's set for 50 minutes.

When the time is up, turn the cooker off (or, if your Instant Pot has the feature, you could simply set it ahead of time to not go to the warm setting) and wait 15 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure.

Serve immediately (skim off any excess fat on top of the sauce, if there's a lot) or transfer to storage containers and refrigerate. I like stewed meats best if they've been chilled and reheated, but it's up to you. If you refrigerate, the fat will rise to the top and harden, making it easier to remove. Just pull that off, reheat, and serve.

I served these with polenta, but they'd be great with rice, potatoes, or noodles to sop up all the extra sauce.

I received the Instant Pot through 37 Cooks at no cost to me.

You can follow Instant Pot on Twitter or Facebook. Want to chat with other Instant Pot users? There's a very lively Facebook group dedicated to the pot!