Sundays with Sparky: Oxtail Poutine

Sundays with Sparky: Oxtail Poutine

Many of you have found me via Google or another search engine; I find it endlessly amusing to read the search terms that bring you to Quips, Travails and Braised Oxtails. Some of my favorite inexplicable googles have included “income generating potential of pies and pastry,” (thus far, zero!) “shredded kevlar” (no, don’t have a recipe for that!) and “are homemade fruit parfaits bad for you” (moderation in all things, I guess – but maybe you’re overthinking things a little?)

One day, a google appeared on my analytics page, a google so portentous that it was backlit by heaven itself, and the search terms issued directly from the lungs of an angel choir “OXTAIL POUTINE.” Oh, internet, how glad I am to have met you – you have the right answers even before we ask the question!

Never heard of poutine? I’m so sorry. Poutine is as near to my own personal idea of food perfection as I can get: it’s a French-Canadian dish; the name is supposed to mean something like “a mess.” It traditionally consists of crispy french fries, squeaky fresh cheese curds, and a savory brown gravy. Think fried with a side of umami.

I decided not to put either you or Sparky and Zuko through making french fries – but I wasn’t about to sully our poutine with anything less than homemade fries. Since the boys had made them before, I made them myself after the gravy was finished and heating nicely on the stove. This time I cut them in nice thick spears instead of shoestrings, but the basic principles of the linked recipe are the same.


Prepared french fries (make them last, so they’re hot and crispy)
1 lb fresh cheese curds
about 2lb oxtails
2 carrots
1 red bell pepper, or 3-4 mini peppers
1 large red onion
1 yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
A small handful of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used rosemary, thyme and parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste

001The boys got started on the oxtail gravy. (This recipe has a light carroty sweetness. You can alter that bit by reducing the amount of carrots, peppers, and red onion.) I liked the slight sweetness as a foil for the salty cheese and french fries, others tasters would have preferred to pile on the umami, everybody ate it happily. YMMV.



Sparky and Zuko prepped the veggies, seeding the peppers and peeling and cutting everything into about 2-inch chunks.




We then dumped everything into a large cast-iron skillet with the oxtails arranged around the top. This went into a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes (the oxtails were flipped once during cooking so they browned nicely on all sides.)


010Everything came out a lovely toasty golden brown, and the juices from the meat and vegetables settled to the bottom. We carefully picked out the oxtails and a stray vegetable or two and dropped them into the pressure cooker.




The broth and vegetables went right into the blender, and was blended into a lovely gravy, which we put in the refrigerator while the oxtails cooked.



We added 1/3 cup of port and about 2 cups of chicken stock to the oxtails, and then locked the pressure cooker and brought it up to high pressure. We cooked the oxtails for 30 minutes, reduced the heat and checked to make sure the meat was falling off the bones (ours needed about 10 more minutes; I flipped them over when we checked them)

015Using two forks, the boys pulled the meat off the oxtails and we put the meat back in our cast iron skillet, fried it a bit and then added back the gravy to reheat. We added our tablespoon of fresh herbs, and seasoned the gravy to taste (keep in mind that both the fries AND the cheese are salty, so underseason.)

Then, assembly!

Plate up some fries…


Top with cheese curds…


Slather with gravy!



Garnish with parsley if you really think it’s necessary; surprisingly, Sparky and Zuko turned out to be pro-garnish. Put a forkful in your mouth and listen to the angel choir in the background….Enjoy!


Leave a comment