I was craving for the comfort that only a good glass of wine and a soothing bowl of brothy braised meat could provide for me to combat the chilling effects of a late Fall Pacific Northwest drizzle. I couldn’t decide which to eat, so I settled on both: a batch of oxtail pho and a classic French ‘pot au feu’, France’s version of a boiled beef dinner.
I arranged all the ingredients on my counter and began cooking. I came to the quick realization that both were very similar; each dish featured meats being braised for long periods of time with similar spicing, the main difference seemed to be how each culture finished their dish. The Vietnamese serve with basil. mint, bean sprouts and rice noodles while the French with potatoes, cabbage, and root vegetables.
There is something particularly warming and comforting about pho, perhaps it is the more aggressive spicing and hot peppers that gives it that extra glow that seems to chase the dreariness away. Give pho a try this week and let me know how it turns out, hashtag the recipe #pistousandpastis – we love to see your creations on social media!
Oxtail and Beef Neck Pho
- 1 onion
- 1 3-inch piece ginger root
- 1 pound ox tails
- 1 pound beef neck
- 1 - 2 gallons water
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 5 cardamon pods
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 5 cloves
- 4 star anise
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- fish sauce
- 4 ounces cooked wide rice noodles
- basil leaves
- mint leaves
- bean sprouts
- lime wedges
- jalapeno slices
- hoisin sauce
Cut an unpeeled onion in half and put on a cookie sheet with a split ginger root. Blacken under a broiler, about five minutes.
In the meantime, put oxtails and beef neck into a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.
When it boils, dump all the liquid and rinse your meat.
Put into a pressure cooker covered with about 1 gallon water, cinnamon, cardamon, coriander, cloves, star anise, peppercorns and bay leafs. Follow your pressure cookers instructions and cook for one hour. I let my pressure cooker sit for 15 minutes before opening.
Open and strain your liquid gold. It should be very fragrant and rich smelling.
How much fish sauce you add is up to your personal preferences, I start with a 1/2 cup and then keep adding and tasting till it is salty enough.
Arrange cooked rice noodles and meat in a large bowl.
Pour broth over and serve. On a separate plate, have piles of basil leaves, mint leaves, bean sprouts and lime wedges. Serve hoisin sauce and sriracha on the side.