2753. OXTAIL and BARLEY SOUP with BACON

serves 4-6

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 slice bacon, chopped
4 lbs. oxtails, cut into 3-inch segments
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juice
4 cups beef stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
croutons (recommended: garlic croutons)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add bacon and saute until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the oxtails, cut ends down, to the pot; let cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 8 minutes. Turn to brown the other end, then brown the sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a warm plate. Repeat with remaining oxtails. Reduce heat to medium and add carrots, celery and onion to the pot; saute until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the oxtails and any accumulated juices to the pot and add garlic, tomatoes with juice, stock, wine, salt, marjoram, five-spice powder (if using) and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until meat is falling off the bones, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring water to a boil over medium heat. Add barley and a pinch of salt; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove oxtails from the pot with a slotted spoon and let cool slightly, then pick the meat from the bones. Discard bones. Skim the fat from the surface of the soup with a large spoon. Return meat to the pot and add reserved bacon; reheat, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Divide barley among heated bowls and top with soup. Garnish with parsley and croutons.

bacon recipe courtesy of: 300 Sensational Soups by Carla Snyder and Meredith Deeds, 2008, pp. 166-167

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