Italian Oxtail Stew with Celery and Tomatoes
¼ pound Smoked Turkey Ham (the original recipe uses pancetta, but anything smokey like smoked sausages will also work), cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 carrot, peeled, finely diced
1 small onion, peeled, finely diced
4 inner stalks celery, 1 finely diced, 3 sliced into 3-inch-long pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds oxtail (trimmed weight), severed at each joint into pieces about 3 inches long
Sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups white wine
3 sprigs fresh marjoram or 1 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (28-ounce) can peeled Italian tomatoes, drained
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a deep, heavy casserole or pot that can fit all the oxtails in one layer, combine smoked turkey ham, carrot, onion and diced celery and enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan (about 3 tablespoons).
Place pan over medium heat and cook until smoked turkey ham renders its fat, about 15 minutes. Season oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper, add to the casserole and brown well on all sides, turning them only after they've browned. Using tongs, remove oxtails from pan and place in a bowl. Set aside.
Add the tomato paste to the vegetables in the casserole and cook, stirring, until paste caramelizes, about 2 minutes. Stir in wine and mix. Heat to boiling and cook 3 minutes. Add marjoram, cloves and cinnamon and then tomatoes, squishing them between your fingers as they fall into the pan.
Return oxtails to pan. Liquid must be as high as one-third of the ingredients. If not, add a little water. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover pan and place in oven. Braise for 1 1/2 hours, turning the oxtails now and then.
Add the remaining celery, then continue cooking until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 30 to 60 minutes longer.
Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve on a large platter or in shallow bowls, making sure everyone gets a bit of the pulpy sauce and celery.