The best hangover meal I ever had is oxtail soup. Some people like to slowly wake up in a black out room and eventually crawl there way to the car looking for the closest greasiest pit stop for a fat juicy, cheesy burger with bacon. A nasty oozy sloppy Ruben sandwich, overdone deep fried wings with table top old refilled hot sauce. Some don’t even mind a cold dried up pizza from the night before. The greasier, the better. Chased down with a sparkling, throat tingling coca cola or a perfectly iced, cold beer. That also usually does it for me as well. Perhaps it all sounds good based on who you are. For me, it’s all about soups. The right kind of soup. It must be brothy, lemony, spicy with an off the bone, falling apart, over soaked meat. A whole pot of chicken noodle soup works well but for me, it’s all about ox-tail.
I remember being in Colombia once at my wife’s family farm and I don’t quite remember why, but we must have stayed up with the cousins till four o’clock in the morning talking about god knows what drinking “aguardiente” and chasing it back with iced cold beers and scotch on the rock. OMG. One of the signature dishes in south America is “sancocho”. A big pot of broth made up of pork chunks or sausages, chicken pieces, oxtail, corn, yucca etc. And when you are living on a farm, folks, those items are not hard to come by. They usually serve aji (spicy salsa) guacamole, steam rice, plantains, fried or boil. Even a poached egg right in the “sancocho” works well for me. Lots of lime of course. But, I’m sure you can imagine the “hangover”
When you wake up the next morning in a coma after a long night of just plain stupidity. Your head is spinning, your eyes are red with hardly any visibility. Achiness runs throughout your body while your blessing the bathroom. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “how you will never repeat this ever again?” Popping two pain killers and chasing it with a gallon of water just doesn’t do it folks. You need more than that and the best hangover meal I ever had is a pot of oxtail soup.
It all starts with a great broth. Fat center cut pieces of oxtails which will cook for 3 hours or more and it’s so worth the wait. You have nothing better to do anyway. Cooking the oxtail with key ingredients at different stages is very important. You want all the ingredients in the pot to be perfectly cooked. Now we combine garden fresh picked herbs with basic veggies such as leeks, carrots, celery, squash; I prefer butternut squash. Other favorites, such as corn on the cobb, yucca, Yukon potatoes and of course garlic. And yes… I also add some other personal favorite ingredients to make this soup unique, special and just plain amazing. I like to serve this soup with what I call “aji.” I guess you would call it a spicy salsa. A perfectly minced combination of tomato, cilantro, long onions and lemon juice. For me, there is nothing like this. Once the spoon, full of broth touches your pallet, it’s absolute addiction. The spicy-zesty broth full of meat flavor from the oxtail is just ridiculous. The corn husk is so sweet and juicy and the creamy tender taste of the yucca as it softens on my tongue. Now, let’s not forget the guest of honor; the oxtail.
What can I say? it is so tender that it melts in your mouth. The buttery, silky bone marrow comes right out. There is no proper or fancy way to eat this. You gotta get in there and grab the corn and suck on it. Especially if you want all that juicy sweetness. The oxtail needs no fork or knife and you gotta grab with your hands as well. Suck up all the meat off the bone especially the marrow. Be as loud as you want, who cares? You are in your own world with no one to share this greatness with. Be selfish and enjoy. Myself, I enjoy the broth with lots of freshly squeezed lime and “aji.” For that spicy kick, I am “all in” with fresh chopped scotch bonnet peppers because I’m not drizzling that old table top refilled hot sauce on this bowl of glory. Just enough to dabble in my bowl to give it the right amount of heat.
Now, when your upper lip is sweating and tears are running down one eye, that’s a good sign of a slow but steady recuperation. There is life in you! That big pot of spicy, lemony, zesty cilantro broth , filled with goodies, especially the tender oxtail. Well, what else can I say? after filling up on two bowls and chasing it down with an ice cold beer, you get right back into bed and sleep it off. For me, that is the best hangover meal I ever had.
This soup is prepared in different steps to allow all ingredients to cook perfectly
The ingredients |for the oxtail soup |step 1
- 2 pounds center cut thick pieces of oxtail
- kosher salt for rubbing the meat to taste
- ground black pepper for rubbing the meat to taste
- 2 whole sweet corn husks cut in half
- 3 cubes chicken bouillon
- 2 gallons water
- 2 bay leafs
- sprig of fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire
- 1/4 cup red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
- 1/3 cup red vinegar
combine all above ingredients in a large stock pot with only 1-1/2 gallon of water and over high heat bring to a boil. Once at a boil simmer and cover and low boil for about two hours. Follow the next step below.
The ingredients |vegetables |step 2
- 2 stalks of leeks sliced 1/4 inch thick and removing the very hard green tops (soak the sliced pieces in cold water to remove any dirt)
- 2 medium carrots peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 medium Spanish onion peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 2 long stalks of celery cleaned and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
- 1 ounce fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 medium Yukon gold potato peeled and left whole
- 1 medium yucca, peeled and cut into three log pieces (lengthwise)
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper ground to taste
Once the oxtail has come to a boil, lower temp to medium high, cover and allow to cook, (3 hours or more based on the portion of the of the meat), add the potatoes and yucca and allow to cook for about thirty minutes for tenderness. Then add the remainder of the vegetables and allow to cook for twenty minutes more and simmer for ten minutes. Always make sure to always taste the broth for proper seasoning and taste the meat for proper tenderness as well. sometimes based on the portion of the meat, it might take twenty to thirty minutes more. Patience, it’s worth it.
The ingredients |aji (salsa) |step 3
- 3-4 medium size vine ripped tomato, seeded and diced into 1/4 inch pieces.
- 2 ounces red onion diced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1-ounce bunch of fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 fresh limes freshly juiced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- kosher salt and black pepper freshly ground
- for a little heat, you can add 1/2 medium minced jalapeno (some seeds removed)
- combine all aji ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl and mix well then taste for seasoning to your taste.
- This soup is served best not to hot with an ice cold beer or two. chase it with lots of water then hit the bed.