Braised Oxtail and Crimini Mushroom Risotto

It is the never ending question... what to have for dinner?  The weather we are having brings a lot of meals that are right in my wheelhouse.  Roasting, stewing, braising, hunker down and tuck right in, it's comfort food time.  As the days become dark so much earlier, I feel a sense of ease seeing a pot bubbling away on the stove, or a chicken roasting in the oven.  It's Friday, which means we get to sleep in tomorrow and tomorrow we are lucky enough to be free to do as we please.  So, it's time to get cozy, have that evening libation, and settle in for the night.  What better way to do it than with a hearty braised oxtail and mushroom risotto and a nice glass of red wine?
1.5 lbs Oxtails, preferably larger ones
2 shallots, minced
2 cups diced crimini mushrooms
1/2 cup red wine
1.5 cups beef stock
2 tbsp port
1 bay leaf

In a small braising cast iron pot, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Salt and pepper the oxtails and brown them in the pot.  Remove the oxtail and saute the shallots for a few minutes until softened.  Add in the mushrooms and saute for a few minutes more, until mushrooms are softened as well.  Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.  Add in the port, beef stock and bay leaf and return to a boil.  Return the oxtail to the pot, cover and simmer over low heat for about 2 1/2 hours, turning the oxtail occasionally.  The oxtail should be tender and easily pull away from the bone.  Remove oxtail from the braising sauce to a shallow dish and cover with foil or saran wrap until cool enough to handle.  Then remove and shred all the meat from the bone.  Return the meat to the braising sauce.  Let simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Make your risotto with a combo of chicken and beef stock.  I used 1.5 cup carnaroli rice and used madeira instead of white wine.  When the risotto is nearly done, add in the braised oxtail and mushroom along with braising sauce.  Depending on how much risotto you are making, you may not need all of the oxtail.  Or, depending on what kind of ratio of rice to oxtail you want, you may use all of it.  Really, it's up to you and how you like it.  I, of course, used it all!  Finish with 1/4 cup mascarpone and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan.

I sauteed some pea shoots and plated the risotto on top.  Nice contrast of green and freshness to the heartiness of the risotto.  Sharks were abound during the removal of the oxtail meat.  I had to fight them off with my tongs.  The risotto was heavenly.  So, so good.


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