No NFL on NBC this weekend, as the Peacock gets geared up for Super Bowl XLIII, but fun on the side aplenty to be had, especially with the Sunday evening tilt between the Steelers and the Ravens. The Steelers feature Ben Roethlisberger, who bounced back from a concussion to lead the Steelers past the Chargers, and Troy Polamalu, an ill-tempered strong safety of Samoan extraction.The Ravens have a rookie QB named Joe Flacco, and a defense anchored by Ray Lewis, who was acquitted of murder. Gametime temperature in Pittsburgh will be somewhere in the teens. There are an assortment of tough guys on both sides of the ball. Call your bookie, take the under, and think about oxtail stew. Lewis and Polamalu prefer to remove a tail from a living ox with their teeth, but you can skip this step.
Braised oxtail with root vegetables
(adapted from Bones: Recipes, History and Lore, by Jennifer McLagan.)
5 lb oxtail, in segments c. flour
Salt and pepper cup olive oil 4 carrots, peeled
4 celery stalks
1 large onion, quartered
1 head of garlic, in cloves, peeled
1 bottle red wine (let your conscience be your guide a burly Spanish red that costs more than a movie ticket would do the trick)
2 cups stock (beef is nice, but homemade chicken stock is better than canned beef stock, which tastes like robot catheters)
2 bay leaves (for all that is dear, use the fresh ones, that they sell over by the basil and stuff) 4 parlsey stalks
1) Dredge oxtail in flour, then brown with the olive oil in large Dutch oven.
2) Pour off extra fat, add onion, carrot and celery, and 2/3 red wine, and bring to a gentle boil. Add stock, bay leaves and parsley
3) Braise in 300 degree oven for 3-4 hours, until meat is tender, but not falling apart. Remove oxtails to ovenproof platter, strain liquid into large glass container, and refrigerate overnight.
4) Next day, remove the fat from the braising liquid. Combine with remaining wine, and bring to simmer.
5) Dice the turnips and parsnips. In salted water, blanch them for two minutes (you can add carrots here as well) Scatter over oxtails, pour sauce over, and roast in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Serve, ideally with crusty bread and salad.