Why It Works
- Beef neck has the tendons you'll find in oxtail but costs less.
- Simmering with aromatics is easy and hands-off.
In the time I've written my column focusing on offal and less often used parts, I've written about lamb's neck, pork neck, even venison neck. But I haven't yet written about beef neck.
One of these days I'm going to sit down and categorize every internal organ and external part I've written about. It's on the to-do list, right after organizing my spice cabinet and filling out a stack of rebate forms.
Anyway, beef neck. It's worth seeking out.
It has the tendons you'll find in oxtail but costs less because it's less trendy. It's just as tender though somewhat less fatty than oxtail.
You might not think of beef neck as a summertime food since, like oxtail, it requires a lengthy simmering to become tender. And right you would be, if you're talking about making a stewed meat and potatoes dish that calls for the usual mix of onions, carrots, celery, herbs, spices, and deglazed wine sauce. That does add up to a lot of tending over a hot stove.
But if you rethink the purpose of your simmered beef neck and make it a component in something else, much of that stovetop work goes away. You don't need to brown and deglaze, you don't need a wine sauce, you just need the meat to be tender.
And here's the thing: if you put a forgiving piece of meat such as beef neck into a pot with water and simmer it, you're barely cooking. All you have to do is put the beef neck in the pot with water and salt, throw in some bay leaves, oregano, chiles, and turn the heat on low. You're not really cooking, you're just, well, applying heat to meat.
Tacos are one such use for simmered meat. Whip up a salsa, get a stack of tortillas and some cheese ready, and in no time you'll be eating a juicy cut of beef with fresh vegetables and dairy all in one.
2 pounds beef neck
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 dried chile guajillos
1 small to medium size onion, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Freshly ground black pepper
Rinse beef neck under cold running water and place into a pot along with all braising ingredients. Add enough water to cover beef neck. Bring water to boil, skimming off scum as necessary. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 hours, until meat falls off bone and liquid is reduced by at least one-half.
Allow meat to cool slightly in its cooking liquid. Remove bones and break up meat slightly with a fork, mixing it with reduced braising liquid. Remove bay leaves and chiles. Use meat as a filling for tacos with salsa, cilantro, and cheese or crema.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 12g||15%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||26%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||5%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 18mg||89%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|