so, for the "doing anything with" part, we went through a couple steps. first, cooked up some niman ranch uncured bacon. kept the fat, and put the bacon aside. then i used that fat to cook a bunch of ground pork that i'd gotten at Ranch 99 as well. browning the pork tasted/smelled good, but i was really just trying to get another kind of fat in the pan. (thus far, we have olive oil, bacon fat, and ground pork/marbling fat)
took the ground meat out, and then put in the oxtail sections. the little ones towards the end of the tail are pretty small and manageable, about the size of the stew meat they resemble, but the ones that are toward the butt are pretty big and unwieldy. was able to wrestle them in and brown them all around. salted and peppered prodigiously, due to my own typical habit of not using enough salt.
once they were browned, they got pulled from the pan. now we've got olive oil, bacon fat, ground pork fat, and beef fat all in the pan. *this*, i can work with. threw in a bunc of soup/stock/stew vegetables (carrots, onions, celery, that kind of stuff) plus what i like to think of as "dark ages" spices, the stuff that i picture people tried to use to rescue meat in europe in the 1500s. pepper, salt, bay leaves, thyme. i think i probably snuck some oregano and cumin in there, too, just because i have a compulsion.
finally, cooked all that up, added some garlic and browned it, and then threw all the meat (oxtail and bacon, not the ground pork) back in. put in some tomatoes for texture and to add liquid, and then alaina threw in 2 cups of chicken broth.
sat it in a 300 degree oven for almost three hours. i'd been aiming at two hours, but was distracted doing our taxes (HOLY GOD THAT WAS EXPENSIVE) and then we forgot to turn the rice on. after three hours, the meat was doing the right thing: falling off the bone and being extremely tender.
so, now i've eaten my first two servings, on top of (requisite) basmati rice. the meat is so friggin rich it tastes like butter. eating the bacon barely even registers in this meal, and even the carrots taste like animal fat. yum.
next time, i might not make it *quite* so rich, and i might balance serving it with a heartier starch, like potatoes. the whole thing could also use some barley to help sop up some of the liquid, too, and of course more salt, pepper, and other spices never hurt.
in all, a success. should taste even better in a day or two after i've skimmed the fat and refrigerated it. reheating and serving with good bread sounds like a plan, maybe if i find time to come home for lunch this week.