Famed New York City based chef Marcus Samuelsson appeared at Leona in support of Red Rooster Cookbook, cooking alongside Nyesha Arrington, who Samuelsson called “the future.” Arrington’s star continues to rise in L.A., progressing from Josiah Citrin’s protégée to executive chef posts in Santa Monica at Cache and Wilshire, followed by an appearance on “Top Chef.” Now she’s thriving at Leona, a seasonal destination by Venice Beach with business partners Breegan and Kristian Vallas. Arrington’s skills were on display at this family-style dinner, with her braised oxtail preparation being my favorite dish of the night.
Arrington starts by searing sizable slices of oxtail to generate an enticing brown color on the meaty chambers. She deglazes with Sherry wine and veal stock, mirepoix, thyme, and bay leaves, and cooks the fatty, collagen-rich meat for three-and-a-half hours, yielding sticky results and short rib-like shreds. She lets the tails rest in cooking liquid over night. The following day, she removes the oxtails and pours on reduced braising liquid.
The tails came dressed with mirepoix, crispy Korean rice cake cylinders and red chard leaves, which provided necessary roughage. Hopefully a dish this delicious makes it to Leona’s resurfaces menu, or at least resurfaces in some form during another collaboration.