Prepping for this pasta dish with oxtail ragu, I came across three separate jars of horseradish, which ended up being the inspiration for the horseradish taste test. The motivation came from having a couple of “weird” cuts left from our beef share that we had vowed to experiment with. Adapted from bon appétit, this served 4:
- 3 pounds oxtails or 2 ½ pounds beef shanks
- Salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium carrot, peeled
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 3 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, divided use
- 1 cup coarsely torn breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish (or more to taste)
- 12 ounces strozzapreti or other short pasta
Preheat oven to 350°. Liberally season the oxtails or beef shank with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat and cook the meat until deeply browned all over, 15—18 minutes; transfer to a bowl.
While the meat is cooking, finely chop the onion, carrot and celery by hand or in a food processor.
In the same pot cook the vegetables, stirring often, until soft, 5—7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return meat to pot and add wine, broth and 2 tablespoons of the rosemary. Meat should be just covered; top off with water if needed. Bring to a simmer, cover and transfer to oven. Braise, checking after an hour to make sure oxtails are covered at least two-thirds of the way up. The meat should be falling off the bone, about 2—2½ hours. Remove meat from liquid. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and return to sauce; discard bones. This can be made up to 4 days ahead. Cool and refrigerate if not using right away.
When the meat is out of the oven: on a rimmed baking sheet, toss the breadcrumbs with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, squeezing it to help it absorb oil. Bake until golden brown, 5—7 minutes; let cool. Stir breadcrumbs, horseradish, and remaining 1 tsp. rosemary in a medium bowl.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (pasta will still be opaque and very firm in the center). Drain pasta, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.
Bring ragu to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid to help finish cooking pasta, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve pasta topped with horseradish breadcrumbs and enjoy!
My verdict: This was the recipe that inspired the horseradish taste-off and it was delicious! I used a beef shank that I had from Brykill Farm, which added a lot of flavor to the dish. Don’t let the oxtails prevent you from making this. Beef shanks, short ribs–anything that would work well with long braising will be great! The next time I make this I’ll probably double up on the sauce and freeze half, since it is a lengthy cooking time. A slow cooker or sous-vide machine would probably work well here too. I’m sure there was much more than 2 teaspoons of horseradish—more like 2 tablespoons, but we love the taste of horseradish! The crunch of the breadcrumbs gave a nice contrast to the softness of the meat and would probably be great on any number of dishes (mac and cheese, roast beef, rack of lamb, Brussels sprouts, etc.). What would you use them on?