Cooking Our Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home

The path from cult hit to populist sell-out can be hard to watch.

In this case, it’s chef Zachory Pellacio’s move from former classic-in-the-making Chickenbone Café to Meatpacking circus 5 Ninth . Sure, the jump from cult following to everyone’s hot list is a temptation that many of us couldn’t pass up, but it can be a bummer to witness. 5 Ninth is such a circus, in fact, that Gothamist does not want to confuse you into thinking this is a restaurant recommendation. The only reason Gothamist brings it up is as an excuse to create a recipe for braised oxtail.

Braised oxtail can be a few and far between sighting on restaurant menus but it’s usually always a winner. 5 Ninth’s braised oxtail is a classic example of its allure. Imagine the melt in your mouth texture of braised short ribs infused with the deep flavors of the classic Vietnamese oxtail soup, Pho. Oxtail rocks.

As a diversionary tactic, Gothamist spent much of the time at 5 Ninth thinking of another way to feature braised oxtail in a meal at home. All thoughts naturally continued to come back to Vietnamese cuisine. Ah hah. The tender braised oxtail would be a great pairing with the crunch of a crispy spring roll.

Gothamist survived 5 Ninth, but all we got was this Gothamist Recipe.

Gothamist Recipe

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Braised Oxtail Spring Rolls

This is a great appetizer to make for entertaining, as it can be made well in advance and finished at the last moment. If you’re looking for a main course, the braised oxtail would be great as a ragu for pasta or with our recipe for gnudi.

Gothamist tried these spring rolls with a fried and raw rice paper wrapping. The crunchiness of the fried version was by far the favorite of our tasting panel…urrr, party. The key here is to fry them briefly in hot oil - we avoided getting them too dark or golden so not to distract from the flavor of the oxtail. The brief fry gives us the crunchy contrast we were looking for.

Ingredient Shopping List
Recipe makes about 10 spring rolls.

3 packages fresh oxtail (about 3 per package)
1 bottle Canola Oil
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large carrot
1 small white onion
1 stalk celery
1 jar ground Paprika
Whole peppercorns
1 Bay Leaf
1 lemon
1 package of dried rice paper (Asian markets, Whole Foods)
1 bunch rosemary

Estimated cost of ingredients: $23 at Fairway

Prepare the Braising Ingredients

Roughly chop the carrot, onion and celery. Take out two stalks of rosemary and have your paprika ready.

Brown the Oxtail

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Season both sides of the oxtail with salt and pepper. Place a small glug of olive oil on the bottom of a large dutch oven or oven proof pot. Set on high heat and wait until the oil gets hot, about two minutes.

Brown the oxtail on both sides until each side get a nice crust, about 3 minutes a side. Don’t overcrowd the pan - this reduces the high heat and results in reduced browning. Try and do the oxtail in two batches.

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Create the Braise

Set your browned oxtail aside. Lower the same pan to medium and add the vegetables and one tablespoon of paprika. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté the vegetables for two minutes, shaking the pan intermittently. Add the rosemary and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

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Place the oxtail back into the pot and add cold water until the oxtail are barely covered. (A glug of red wine here, if you have it, is a great addition). Add the bay leaf and the peppercorns and again scrape the bottom of the pan and mix gently. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and gently heat to a simmer, about 4-5 minutes.
When simmering, transfer to the oven and let gently simmer for about 3 hours. Check on the braise frequently – it should not be bubbling or boiling. If it is, take it out and let it rest before continuing. A hard boil will make the meat tough.

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You can braise the oxtail a day before serving.

Finish the Braise

After the braise has cooled, take the meat away from the bones. Be careful to remove most of the fat. Set aside in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. (Note: strain the braising liquid multiple times and skim the surface to remove extra fat. This can be used as a sauce or stock in the future).

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Chop a tablespoon worth of chopped chives into the oxtail and mix.

Make the Spring Rolls

Place two of the rice paper sheets into a warm bowl of water, completely submerging them. Once they are soft (about 1 minute), take them out and place them on a clean cutting board. Take about 1 tablespoon of the oxtail and spread horizontally in a thin line across the bottom of the rice paper. Fold up the bottom of the wrapper and continue rolling, tucking in the filling to make as tight as possible after each roll, until the wrapper is completely sealed around the filling.

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Continue to roll the spring rolls and set them aside on a sheet pan.

Fry the Spring Rolls

Place a half bottle of the canola oil into a saucepan. Place on high heat. After three minutes, carefully add a drop of water. When it bubbles up, you are ready to fry.

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Slice each of your spring rolls into three pieces and place into the oil. With a slotted spoon, gently separate them so they don’t stick to eat other in the oil. Fry 4 or 5 pieces at a time for about 2-3 minutes. Have two paper towels ready. Carefully take the spring rolls out and place them on the paper towels to drain. They should be crunchy but not golden brown. Season them immediately with salt and pepper. Continue until you finish all of the spring rolls.

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Serve the Spring Rolls

Line the spring rolls on your serving platter. Make a small slice into your lemon and squeeze a few drops across each spring roll. This adds a nice bright flavor to them. Garnish with chopped chives and serve immediately. You can also rewarm them in an oven for a minute or two if you are serving later in the day.

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