by Frank Solivan
Frank Solivan spent much of his youth in Alaska, which perhaps accounts for his range of talents. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a poet. He can, and does, use words like “unctuous” in everyday conversation. He plays guitar, violin, and mandolin. He writes songs, sings, and is the leader of Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen, the IBMA band of the year in 2014. Their latest album, Cold Spell, was nominated for the Grammy for 2015’s best bluegrass album of the year. Not enough for you? Okay, Solivan is also a trained chef. Really. Below is his recipe for Mexican oxtail soup. Not bad for a guy from Alaska, is it?
This soup is inspired by two of my favorite Mexican soups, Pazole and Caldo De Res. The star of this soup is the oxtail. It adds a considerable amount of beefy goodness to the broth and the unctuous, velvety mouth feel is from the breakdown of connective tissue. The tender, flavorful meat is contrast by the freshness and crisp textures of the garnishes. The lime becomes the catalyst for flavor and the heat of the chile brings it on home!
The lime becomes the catalyst for flavor and the heat of the chile brings it on home!
Just ask your local butcher for some fresh, medium to large oxtail sections and have fun using this guide. I suggest a Modelo Especial while cooking and keep one cold to have when it’s served. Who knows, I may even have one in between.
8-10 fresh oxtail medium to large sized sections
2 medium yellow onions chopped
3 carrots chopped
2 sticks of celery chopped
2 medium zucchini large pieces
5-10 cloves of garlic chopped
1 1/2 pounds of fresh or canned hominy
1 small can of red chile sauce
2-4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 Mexican beer
salt and pepper
large two finger pinch of ground cumin
large two finger pinch of chile powder
large two finger pinch of dried Mexican oregano
chopped jalapeño or serano chiles
fresh squeezed lime juice
Got all that? Okay, do this:
Liberally salt and pepper oxtail. Add olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium high heat and brown all sides of the oxtail sections. After the meat is browned, remove it all from the pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, hominy, garlic, oregano, bay leaves, cumin and deglaze with Mexican beer and chile sauce. Return the oxtail back into the pot. Cover ingredients under 1/2 inch of hot water and simmer with lid on medium heat for about 3.5 hrs, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add zucchini when meat starts to become tender around 3 hrs. Only when the meat is tender add the zucchini. Done when meat is falling off the bone (around 3.5 to 4 hrs). Salt to taste.
In a large bowl add meat from 2-3 oxtail, a couple of pieces of zucchini and broth. Top with shaved cabbage, radish, chiles, cilantro, scallion, avocado and squeeze a wedge of lime all over. Dig in with a large spoon!
Originally appeared in Kithfolk, Winter, 2014. Used with permission.