Sunday Dinner - Braised

Collard Green Leaf

Sunday dinners for me are all about dishes that take a few hours to cook.  Most often the dishes I cook can be left unattended for a few hours so I can get caught up on my laundry (and sneak in a little gaming!).

This meal was created with some flavours from my youth in mind.  On Sundays, there was always a large pot of something simmering on the stove.  The scents would infuse the entire house, and rouse lazy teenagers out of bed, who were trying (unsuccessfully) to sleep in until 2pm.

This Sunday dinner consisted of braised oxtails, braised collard greens, baked acorn squash and mashed potatoes.

For the oxtails:
1.5 kg of oxtails, rinsed and drained
2 c chopped white onion
2 c chopped fresh tomatoes (canned are ok here, but fresh is best!)
2 tb tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tb dried thyme
2 tb dried savoury
1 tb ground cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp coarse salt
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Enough water or low sodium beef stock to cover the oxtails.

Oxtails ready for the pot
The last of our tomatoes from our garden this summer

- Preheat oven to 350F
- Place all ingredients into an oven-safe pot and add enough water or stock to cover the oxtails.
- Bring to a boil on top of the stove
- Cover and place the pot in the oven
- Let the oxtails simmer in the oven for 2 - 3 hours

The Simmering Pot of Goodness

I realize that 2 - 3 hours seems like a long time and is not very precise.  It depends on how large your oxtails are and how sinewy they are.  I usually do my first check after 2 hours, then every 30 minutes after that.  You are looking for a texture where you can take a fork to them and the meat comes very easily off the bone.  If you prefer your oxtails a little more 'toothsome' you can take them out sooner.

Collard Greens:
- 2 bunches of collard greens, ribs removed, cut into strips, washed
- 1 c low sodium chicken stock
- 1 white onion, thinly sliced
- 2 oz piece of smoked turkey or ham hock (optional)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil

Rib taken out, washed, chopped and ready for the pot

- Place a large pot on the stove over med-hi heat
- Add onion and saute about 4 minutes, just until translucent, but not coloured
- Add the collard greens, the stock and the smoked meat, if using
- Stir to coat the greens in the liquid and onions
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat until it is very gently simmering
- Let simmer for 2 or more hours

Again, times here are general as it depends on how young your collards are.  I have cooked them for as little as 2 - 1/2 hours and as much as 4 hours and they have not turned to mush.  The texture at the end will still have a little bite to it and the sliced onions will almost have dissolved.  (A Southern touch here, is to add a splash of red wine vinegar).

For the Acorn Squash;
- 1 acorn squash, halved and seeds scooped out
- Sprinkle with salt and cinnamon (to taste) and add a small amount of butter
- Place in a roasting pan, flesh side up, with about 1/4 c of water and cover with aluminum foil
- Bake in a 400F oven for about 40 minutes or until tender

From our garden

Dinner is served!

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