Despite an overwhelming love of Arby's, I don't think you can count me as a roast beef sandwich connoisseur. That's not to say I wouldn't like to become one! This sandwich has me well on my way.
The root of the reason is that I've never been much of a beef eater. However, Pure Beef has changed my eating red meat drastically. Whether it was because my mother never cooked much red meat (not so much as a meatloaf, from my recollection) or the frightening plethora of names given to the beast or that the first steaks I tried to cook came out like leather or a slight fear of all meats not totally well-done (gotten over that, thank god).... Whatever the case may be, red meat has never really been on my radar.
Pure Beef rocked my world. Not only did Lynne Curry arm me with some serious knowledge, the recipes are bloody lovely. She has created an avowed beef fan.
I have now picked up things like oxtail, shank, brisket strips, short ribs and beef bones. I've yet to do a 'real' pot roast and I'll probably never grill a T-bone but it's a helluva step forward!
It was oxtail that first got me started on this sandwich I share with you now. As I've noted before, Sanagan's is a great place to pick up meat in Toronto. Unfortunately, the pic above was taken with grocery store oxtail purchased long before my love for Sanagan's began. I think it's worth examining here, however, for the novice beef-eater.
Oxtail is not actually ox meat but the tail of the cow. The nice folks at Sanagan's sell their oxtail in nearly-whole form but were kind enough to chop it into user-friendly 'discs' for me much like what you see above.
Oxtail can be browned and braised like short ribs or stewing beef. But for the ultra-easy, I went for my slow cooker on this occasion. Leftover sauce and meat from any of the above cuts or even a roast would be excellent companions for a crusty bun. The below recipe is an extrapolation of that loveliness but in a less labor-consuming form.
Shredded Beef Sandwich with Jus
Creates enough for a bunch of sandwiches plus some snacky, hot-beef eating.
Please note: While not labor-intensive, this is still a two-day recipe. Plan ahead. This dish could alternatively be made with beef shank.
2 lbs oxtail
3 cups beef broth
1/2 onion, chunked
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 Tbsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp whole peppercorns
6-7 sprigs fresh oregano
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
Feel free to brown the meat first if you're feeling motivated. I was in a rush. I dumped the raw oxtail in the slow cooker. Add all successive ingredients and enough water to cover by an inch or so. This is not a science; don't worry too much.
Cook on high for five hours.
Carefully strain liquid into a separate bowl. Remove meat from the solids and discard the remaining vegetables and spices.
Now for the messy part. Oxtail has a lot of fat and collagen on the bones; separate it with your fingers to pluck the nuggets of meat out.
Refrigerate the meat and the liquid separately and come back tomorrow.
This is the quick day--give yourself approximately 30 to finalize and assemble sandwiches. The following ingredients are noted for one sandwich.
1 1/2 cups reserved beef liquid
3/4 cup reserved beef
1/2 demi baguette, sliced lengthwise
aged gouda or other strong cheese
1 Tbsp horseradish
Oxtail has a ton of collagen--your liquid should now be a bowl of jello. Remove the tallow (beef fat) and reserve for another use (this a super-stable natural fat--go fry/sear stuff in it!).
Chunk out an approximate amount of the beefy gelatin into a small pot. Turn on the heat to simmer--it will turn back to liquid the moment it warms up. Reserve the rest of your gelatin for another use--further sandwiches, braising liquid, jus for another application, or freeze for fall soups! This is true stock at its best.
Keep the pot simmering until it reduces by about 3/4. You will be tempted to add salt at first. Do not; a reduction salts itself. This will take 20-30 minutes depending on your heat and volume of liquid.
While that's going, slice some nice thick pieces of gouda for one half of your baguette and butter the other half. You may definitely use another cheese here but it needs to be strong to stand up and be recognized among the beef and the horseradish. Throw these under a broiler to toast.
Nuke the beef to rewarm it (technical!). Shred with your fingers some if it still appears in larger chunks.
The buttered half will be done first--pull it out and smear with horseradish. Apply the warmed beef.
Pour your jus into a side dish so you can dunk the sandwich. Pull out your bubbly, cheesy sandwich top, assemble, and CHOW DOWN.