Today was probably not the best day for this dish.
Earlier in the week when I purchased the oxtails, there was a fresh blanket of snow on the ground and I was craving a rich, hearty braise. There was still a chill in the air when I put them in a low oven and braised them late into the night, falling asleep to the comforting smell of malt and meat.
But today, as the snow quickly melted on this unseasonably warm day, my appetite wavered to peas and radishes and young, fresh food. So I wrapped it up and put it away for tomorrow, when the cold will return along with a craving for slow-cooked meat.
oxtail braised in malt
Oxtails are full of connective tissue that contain collagen proteins. When cooked at temperatures above 65C, the collagen breaks down into gelatin. The shredded meat can be shaped and compressed and the gelatin will help it hold its shape. This technique can be applied to any hard-working cut of meat that is cooked long and slow such as pulled pork or lamb shanks.
Almonds and nuts can be treated like grains if they are first cooked until tender. This can take a long time by conventional methods. A pressure cooker will tenderize nuts in under an hour, depending on the variety and age.
To make almond risotto, chopped slivered almonds are toasted until golden and fragrant, then cooked in stock until tender. The stock is reduced at the end of the cooking until syrupy. Drained yogurt or labne is stirred in at the end to round out the flavor with a bit of tartness.