The perfect cozy meal for those cold winter nights! Oxtail is a bony, gelatin-rich meat, which is usually slow-cooked as a stew or braised. It is a traditional stock base for a soup. Traditional preparations involve slow cooking, so some modern recipes take a shortcut using a pressure cooker.
Here are some interesting ways oxtail is cooked around the world!
Italy: Coda alla vaccinara (a classic of Roman cuisine).
United Kingdom and Ireland: It is a popular flavour for powder, instant and pre-made canned soups.
Russia: Oxtails are also one of the popular bases for Russian aspic appetizer dishes (холодец or студень).
South America, West Africa, China, Spain and Indonesia: Versions of oxtail soup are popular traditional dishes.
China: A soup called 牛尾汤 (niúwěi tāng, “oxtail soup”).
Korea: A soup made with oxtail is called kkori gomtang (see gomguk). It is a thick soup seasoned with salt and eaten with a bowl of rice. It can be used as a stock for making tteokguk (rice cake soup).
Jamaica, Trinidad, and other West Indian cultures: Stewed oxtail with butter bean or as main dish (with rice).
South Africa: It is often cooked in a traditional skillet called a potjie, which is a three-legged cast iron pot placed over an open fire.
Africa like Zimbabwe: Served with sadza and greens.
United States: Oxtail is a mainstay in African American and West Indian households.
Cuba: A stew can be made from oxtail called rabo encendido.
Philippines: It is prepared in a peanut based stew called Kare-kare.
Iran: Oxtail is slow-cooked and served as a substitute for shank in a main dish called Baghla-Poli-Mahicheh which is prepared with rice, shank (or oxtail) and a mixture of herbs including dill, coriander, parsley and garlic.
- 4 to 5 pounds oxtail (trim the fat) (from Costco)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Flour, for dredging
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 3 whole celery ribs, chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can organic stewed tomatoes (from Costco)
- 3 cups dry red wine
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels then dust with the flour, tapping off any excess. Season with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Place a 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed, oven-safe pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when glistening, add the meat (metal tongs come in handy here) and sear on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Work in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding.
- Transfer the meat to a plate. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, wine, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic and nutmeg. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
- Add the meat and enough water to just barely cover meat. Return to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bones.
- Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the pieces of meat to a plate. Skim any visible fat from the surface of the sauce. Pick the meat from the bones, pulling away and discarding any pieces of fat, and then return the meat to the pan. Pluck out the bay leaves, and sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Serve atop any pasta or rice meant to withstand a hearty sauce. The ragù can be made a few days ahead; keep covered and refrigerated, then reheat over medium-low heat.