Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes, plus 7 hours braising time and overnight chilling time
Servings: 5 to 6
Note: Adapted from "The Cooking of Southwest France" by Paula Wolfert. She recommends serving the daube with noodles, followed by a salad of bitter greens.
4 1/2 to 5½ pounds oxtail, cut into pieces
1 calf's foot or pig's foot, split (optional: for extra body)
3/4 pound slab of lean salt pork
1 tablespoon olive or peanut oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 onions, coarsely chopped
1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Syrah
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Herb bouquet: 3 sprigs parsley, 1 sprig thyme and 1 imported bay leaf tied together with a string
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 ounces jamon de Bayonne, prosciutto or Serrano ham, cut into ½-inch dice
3/4 ounce dried French cepes or Italian porcini, crumbled
1. The day before you plan to serve the daube, heat the oven to 275 degrees. Trim off all excess fat from the pieces of oxtail.
2. Blanch the calf's foot and salt pork in a saucepan of boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain. Slice the rind off the salt pork and reserve. Cube the salt pork and divide into 2 batches. In a heavy, nonreactive skillet, heat the oil and slowly cook half of the salt pork, stirring often, until the cubes turn golden brown and a great deal of their fat has rendered out, about 10 minutes. Line a flameproof earthenware or enameled cast-iron 5- to 6-quart casserole with the pork rind, fat side down. Transfer the browned salt pork to the casserole.
3. Season the oxtail pieces with 1½ teaspoons salt and one-half teaspoon pepper. Brown the oxtail pieces over moderately high heat in batches without crowding the skillet used to cook the salt pork, about 10 minutes per batch. As they brown, transfer the pieces to the casserole.
4. Remove and discard half the fat in the skillet. Cook the onions in the remaining hot fat until golden brown. Add the onions to the casserole.
5. Deglaze the skillet with 1 cup of the wine. Boil down to a glaze. Add another cup of wine and repeat. Add the remaining wine, vinegar and 1½ cups water. Bring just to a boil and skim carefully. Pour over the meats. Add the calf's foot, herb bouquet and garlic. Cover tightly and place in the oven to cook very slowly for 3 hours without disturbing.
6. Carefully remove the oxtails to a deep bowl, cover and keep moist. Remove the meat from the calf's foot while still warm and place in a food processor. Add the remaining salt pork cubes, the cooked pork rind, cooked garlic and the ham. Grind to a smooth paste.
7. Strain the cooking liquid, pushing down on the onions to extract all their juices. Remove as much fat as possible and pour the juices into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and boil slowly, skimming from time to time, until reduced by one third.
8. Carefully return the pieces of oxtail to the casserole and spread the meat paste on top. Add the reduced liquid. Rinse the cepes under running water, drain and add to the casserole. Cover and bake in a 275 degree oven for 2½ hours without disturbing.
9. Remove the casserole from the oven and transfer the oxtails to a work surface, discarding any loose bones. Season with salt and pepper, pour into a bowl and cover and refrigerate. Separately, cover and refrigerate the cooking liquid.
10. About 2½ hours before serving, heat the oven to 275 degrees. Remove the jellied liquid from the refrigerator, and lift off and discard all congealed fat. Combine the liquid and add the meat in the casserole, cover and reheat the daube without stirring for 1½ hours.
11. To serve, remove the oxtails to a deep heatproof platter. Cover with foil and keep warm in the turned-off oven. Strain the sauce into a small saucepan, pressing down on the solids. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook at a slow boil, with the pan half off the heat, skimming, until the sauce lightly coats a spoon, about 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning. Pour over the meat and serve hot.