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Braised Oxtails and Cabbage

  • Yield: Serves 6


  • 10 pounds meaty oxtails
  • 4 dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 head garlic (about 12 cloves), separated into cloves, peeled and halved
  • Bouquet garni (3 sprigs fresh parsley, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, tied together with kitchen twine)
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • About 6 tablespoons duck fat, or canola oil
  • 1 cup Armagnac
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium canned)
  • 1 head green cabbage, cored and separated into leaves
  • 1 head red cabbage, cored and separated into leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for brushing plastic wrap
  • Gray sea salt, for serving


  1. Place the oxtails, wine, Cognac, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and bouquet garni, in a large non-reactive container. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

  2. Drain, reserving the liquid; set the oxtails and vegetables aside. Strain the liquid into a medium stockpot. Bring liquid to a boil, skimming any foam that rises to the top. Continue to boil until reduced by one-third, about 40 minutes; set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, separate the oxtails and the vegetables. Pat oxtails dry, and season with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of the duck fat in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, sear the meat until golden, about 4 minutes per side. As each batch is finished, set aside on a platter. Add more duck fat to the pot as needed.

  4. Add 2 more tablespoons of duck fat to pot and heat. Add reserved vegetables and bouquet garni. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the Armagnac over the vegetables, and lignite with a match. When the flames subside, stir with a wooden spoon to release any browned bits. Add the flour, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.

  5. Return the oxtails to the pot, and add reduced marinade and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered until meat begins to fall off the bones, about 2 hours.

  6. Drain in a colander, reserving liquid. Strain liquid through a fine mesh sieve; set aside. Separate the meat and the vegetables. Remove the meat from the oxtails, and place in a medium bowl; discard bones.

  7. Meanwhile; bring two large pots of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Blanch the green leaves in one pot for 5 minutes, and the red leaves in the second pot for 10 minutes. Transfer to ice-water bath to stop cooking; drain well. Remove the tough, thick ribs from the leaves; discard ribs.

  8. To prepare the stuffed cabbage: Place a 12-inch square of plastic wrap on work surface. Brush center with a small amount of butter. Place a large cabbage leaf over the butter (use more than one leaf if they are small). Place 2 tablespoons of the reserved meat, and 1 tablespoon of the vegetables in the center. Season with salt and pepper. Pull up the corners of the plastic wrap, and twist tightly to enclose. Make sure there is no space between the plastic wrap and the cabbage, or the package will not hold its round shape. Cut off the excess plastic; set aside. Continue until you have 12 green parcels and 6 purple parcels.

  9. Place the parcels in one layer in a single layer in a bamboo steamer basket; use two baskets if necessary. Fill a large pot or wok with 2 inches of water, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil. Place the steamer over the pot making sure the water does not touch the bottom. Cover, and steam until the centers of parcels are warm, about 10 minutes.

  10. In a medium saucepan, bring the reserved sauce to a simmer. Whisk in the 2 tablespoons butter.

  11. Place 2 green cabbage parcels and 1 purple cabbage parcel in the center of each plate. Spoon the sauce over the parcels. Season each parcel with a pinch of gray salt. Serve immediately.

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