What makes this "Wisconsin-style" is the fact that this Ross' Mom gave me this recipe. And Ross is from Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is one of my favorite states to visit (although it's hard to compare it to anything else because Ross' family are there, and I love them dearly). Not only is the state itself beautiful (especially Madison where Ross' family are from) but due to the heavy influence of agriculture on the state the food is generally pretty fantastic. The abundance of game and lake fish that are part of the regional cuisine also make this state an especialy great spot for the food inclined.
On top of all that Ross' Mom, Liz, is an absolutely stellar cook. So when Ross mentioned to me that this was one of his favorite dishes from childhood I had to have LIz's recipe. And just my luck, Liz was happy to oblige.
Liz uses a combination of ox tails and stewing meat for this soup.
Ox tails with a little salt and pepper, and some stewing beef.
The process begins by searing the oxtails and stewing meat in butter. Now, my Mum uses olive oil for everything and that's how I grew up. So I must admit there was a little culture shock due to butter my first few trips to Wisconsin. I am happy to say I've gotten over it. Butter is my friend, I love butter.
After searing both the ox tails and stewing meat I added some chopped onion to the pot, followed by my other veggies (celery, carrot, garlic) and let that mess cook for a few minutes. Once that had cooked down I put the meat and its juices back in the pot with the veggies.
Next Liz says to add a can of fire roasted tomatoes and some beef stock. I did not have any fire roasted tomatoes on hand, so I used diced. I tried to make up for it by adding a pinch of smoked paprika and some red wine for body. Then it was simply a waiting game. The ox tail meat should be tender and succulent.
After about an hour I added a small handful of barley and two diced potatoes and let it keep simmering.
Eventually Ross wandered over to see how I was doing and asked if I was going to remove the meat from the bones. This had not occurred to me. But the answer was yes. This was Mom's recipe, which is not a thing to ever be trifled with.
After another hour (ish) I removed the ox tails and let them cool. And once they were cool enough to handle I removed the meat. Which was a more involved task than I'd originally thought.
Ox tail with bones.
Boneless ox tails.
The best part of this was that I got to knaw on the bones after they were striped of their meat, the cartilage was tender and lovely, a real treat to those who don't mind getting a bit messy.
Once done I was left with a decent amount of meat which went back in the pot.
This is a fantastic soup that I served with red wine and a baguette and some nice sweet butter (yay butter!). The ox tails give the soup real body and the chunks of tail meat had lovely gelatinous bits running through them that were chewy and tender at the same time.
Ross says it was close to the dish that Liz makes - but as I said before there's no competing with Mom.
Thanks Liz for a really awesome supper.
A great meal.