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daring oxtail soup

(post, Sarah Gilbert)

primary-image, l

I distinctly remember a day in Montana. We were living there, in the deep Southwestern corner of the state, while my dad worked for a tiny rural Baptist missionary organization, in an old one-room schoolhouse with a narrow kitchen that once provided food for a spinster schoolteacher and now fed our constantly-broke family of seven. We were frequently given food by the ranchers on whose property we lived.

On this day, it was an oxtail.

I still gag at the smell, now, 20-some years later. But I have been reading Paley's cookbook and Nourishing Traditions and I think perhaps I have been converted. There are terrible colds in my family, and I have an idea that a bone broth with Gene Thiel's carrots and organic russets will heal them.

Paley's recipe calls for things I don't have -- port or cream sherry, for one -- and includes the strange French clarification step, in which you whir egg whites, egg shells, carrots and onions together with the beef from the oxtail, ground up. Also, I only have about a half-pound of oxtail, which I bought on a daring whim from Pastaworks last night, and his recipe asks for four pounds.

So this will be approximate and probably un-French. But it will be daring, indeed. My boys are outside playing in the yard, so now's the time. Here I go. Eek!