Can I just say how much I LOVE oxtails? I didn’t eat it much growing up and when I did, it was made with some kind of gravy. My grandmother would set it in the oven before church and let it slow cook until we came home. She’d always make it with string beans for some reason. BUT!! When I got to college and started on my “eat everything differently” journey, I finally tasted oxtails the way they ate in in the Caribbean.
Well, this recipe isn’t it, lol.
The oxtails in this recipe are braised in wine. For seasonings I tend to use a “house blend”. Actually, I use the same house blend for a lot of dishes. It saves time and brain power. It helps when you know what flavors you like and which work well with each other. And believe me, the right seasonings make a dish. As a reminder, I don’t actually measure seasonings. I just trust the hands of the ancestral (wo)men to guide me. (I mean let’s be real, the cooks in the Big House were not reading and writing recipes down.)
My favorite side dishes for these oxtails are butter beans and rice (or steamed cabbage). I know I say I’m cooking disabledly but, I’m not sure how to make this main dish simply. Hey, at least the side dishes can be made disabledly.
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time: 3-4hrs
Let’s begin. You will need:
- 1 Caldera (Dutch Oven or stock pot) with a lid.
- 8-10 pieces of Oxtail in different sizes. (I like 3 small, 3 medium, 3 larger)
- 1 cup – Red wine – Cabernet Sauvignon (any brand will do but I’m partial to Robert Mondavi)
- 3-4 cup water or broth
- Olive oil (preferred but your fave cooking oil will work. Just don’t use coconut oil.)
- Red or Yellow onion (sliced) (you can also just use pre-sliced or diced onion, or dried onion from the seasoning aisle)
- 1-2 cloves of Garlic (or about a tablespoon of jarred minced garlic or garlic powder from the seasoning aisle)
- Bay Leaf
- House Seasoning Blend (use your nose to “measure”):
- Black pepper,
- Seasoning salt (Lawry’s is preferred),
- Goya Adobo (with the red cap),
- Dried basil, Dried thyme,
- Tumeric OR cumin, and
- Curry powder. (Note: use just dashes of the tumeric, cumin, curry. They are very strong).
- You can skip the house blend and just use some ground black pepper and a 2 packets of Goya Sazon. But, that’s not as fun.
What to do?
- Clean your oxtails!
- In a large bowl, combine your MOST of the seasoning mix with oxtails. Save some for the next step. Use a large spoon or your hands to make sure all pieces are covered. Set it aside. As a matter of fact, it won’t hurt to let the oxtails sit and just soak up those seasonings. So, you can prepare them the night before OR if you’re in a little hurry, give it an hour or two in the fridge.
- Heat up your dutch oven/caldera/stock pot over medium heat. You don’t want it to get too hot. Add the oil to the pot, enough to cover the bottom (about 2-3 tablespoons).
- Place the oxtails, standing up, over the onions/garlic. Let it brown. Don’t overcrowd the pot/dutch oven. There should be a little space between the pieces to ensure they brown through. If you don’t have enough space, then brown in batches. Make sure to flip so the ‘tails are browned on both sides.
- Remove the oxtails then add the onions and garlic to the pot and scraping the bottom of the pot occasionally for about 2 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
- Pour in the red wine and keep scraping. You want to make sure the seasonings and oxtail drippings aren’t cooked/burned onto the bottom.
- Let the wine reduce by half. Use the sides of the pot to track the reduction.
- Add the oxtails back to the pot. Standing up again.
- Slowly add the broth (or water) to the pot. You only need enough so that the liquid is ALMOST covering the ‘tails.
- Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce the heat down to a simmer and then cover the pot/dutch oven.
- Go do something else for about 1 1/2 hours but, don’t forget to keep an eye on the ‘tails. The liquids should still be simmering.
- After 1 1/2 hours, turn the oxtails over, cover and let simmer for another 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until the oxtails are super tender. I usually try to take a piece of meat of with a fork. If it falls off easily, you’re ready!
- Remove the oxtails and let the left over liquid reduce down more and thicken. If you are like me and have run out of patience at this point, just dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in a 1 cup of cold water and then slowly stir into the liquid. You can also use a little bit of flour in the same way.
So now you’ve made braised oxtails! What about the side dishes? You can do anything that soaks up liquid well like: