Braised Oxtail with Oyster Mushrooms over Creamy Polenta

A former colleague and great friend gave me ad hoc at home a few years ago. The photographs are stunning. The writing flows easily and matches the ease that family styled recipes should have. Although I can probably recite the contents of the book from memory, I’ve never made a recipe. I’m so enamored with the photos that the doubt in my mind yells at me saying “but what if it doesn’t LOOK like Thomas Keller’s creation?!!”  If I was going to make something from the book, it would have to be something that I wouldn’t be able to compare to the photo.  A picture-less recipe!! I would make this creation and photograph it, to create my own visual standard to live up to!

Braised Oxtail with Oyster Mushrooms over Creamy Polenta

Enter Braised Oxtail and Mushroom Tartine. Immediately, I knew that I’d be replacing the tartine part of the recipe with a creamy polenta because this was going to be the entree at my dinner party. I love oxtail, but have never cooked it myself.  It took almost an entire day to prepare, but the work was well worth the effort.

THE Tome
Searing the oxtails


Seared oxtails


Post braise oxtails, removed from the bones
(bones kept for a special treat for my birthday guest!)
Oyster Mushrooms


Oyster Mushrooms cut into the pot!
Sauteing mushrooms and adding the shallots
Adding the oxtail and reserved juice into the sauteed mushrooms and shallots
Braised Oxtail with Oyster Mushrooms
Happiness in a pot!

Braised Oxtail with Oyster Mushrooms over Creamy Polenta

Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home, by Thomas Keller


About 4 pounds of oxtail (about 2 trays)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil
About 5 cups beef stock
12 oz. (about 5 cups) oyster mushrooms, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons sliced shallots
3 sprigs of thyme


Preheat the oven to 400.

Generously season oxtails with salt and pepper. Pour 2-3 tablespoons canola oil into a large ovenproof saute pan (or dutch oven) and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce the heat to medium, add about half the oxtails, and cook, adjusting the heat if necessary, until browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining oxtails.

Pour off the fat and return the oxtails to the pan. Add enough beef stock to come halfway up the oxtails. Bring to a simmer, cover, transfer to the oven, and cook until the oxtails are tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours.

Turn the oxtails over and let rest on top of the stove for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.

Remove the oxtails from the cooking liquid, and strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh strainer; set aside. Using your hands, remove the meat from the bones, discarding the fat and tough connective tissue, and put the meat in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (The meat can be covered with the strained cooking liquid and refrigerated overnight. The cooking liquid will solidify; when you reheat the oxtails it may be necessary to add about 1/4 cup water).

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add half the mushrooms and cook, without moving them, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. Cook the remaining mushrooms in the same way.

Return all the mushrooms to the saute pan, add the shallots and thyme, and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the shallots soften. Add the butter and cook, stirring, until the liquid the mushrooms release has cooked off and they are glazed with butter, about 2 minutes. Stir in the oxtails, then pour in the reserved cooking liquid, bring to a simmer, and simmer until the liquid has reduced considerably and glazed the meat and mushrooms, about 20 minutes.

Remove the sprigs of thyme (the leaves will have fallen off).

Meanwhile, prepare polenta.

Creamy Polenta


1/2 cup of fast cooking grits
2 cups of chicken broth (or water)
sprinkle of salt
about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of whatever shredded cheeses you like (sharp cheeses do well here… parmesan, sharp cheddar, asiago, grueyere, herbed goat cheese… blue cheese even. If you do mozzarella, add an extra sprinkle of salt and some garlic). If you don’t shred the cheese, cut it into small pieces… it just makes the melting of the cheese in the last step a little bit easier.


1. Bring chicken broth (or water) and a sprinkle of salt to a rolling boil.
2. Add grits.
3. Reduce heat to medium.
4. Stir.
5. Stir some more.
6. Stir for about 5-7 minutes until the grits has fluffed up and have become very creamy in their texture.
7. Take off of the heat.
8. Add shredded cheese(s). Keep stirring! 🙂
9. Season with salt and pepper to taste
10. When all of the cheese has been incorporated… you’re done.
11. Serve polenta, topped with a generous helping of braised oxtail for a rich and hearty meal!
Eat, Drink & Be Yummy!

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