So, you bought some oxtail. Everybody’s doing it these days, but now it’s sittin’ in the fridge, freezer or icebox, either tickling your fancy or swatting cobwebs off of bad county fair memories, and you don’t want to tuck it away and pretend you never had any. What to do, what to do.
If you are wondering, yes, that thing really is a tail, likely minus the tuft and small last few segments. No, it is not from an ox. Probably. Nearly 90% of “ox”tails in the USA and Europe are from regular beef cattle. It is also possible to get bison “ox”tails, but they will be labeled as Bison. Either species works.
And a big yes, they are delicious, with swat-you-in-the-face beef flavor bigger than brisket, collagens for extra protein and silky mouth feel, and marrow all in one package. Not long ago, oxtails were $2-$3.00 per pound if you could find them. After all, this was another peasant dish that a “proper” home wouldn’t think of serving. Now that cable cooking shows have spoiled all the fun from us who knew about them all along, they tend to be costlier than brisket or chuck roast. After all, there’s only one per animal. I just hope that beef cheeks stay a secret.
While oxtail soup is rightly well-known and Cuban and Puerto Rican barbecue recipes are also delicious, there is nothing quite like the smell and taste of a thick ragout’s concentrated flavor on a cold winter day. Serve this with simple egg noodles and a berry jam torte for dessert, a mug or three of mulled wine with an extra shot of rum, and life is very, very, good.
Equipment and Supplies
- 5-quart Dutch Oven
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 parsnip, peeled and diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 beets, peeled and diced
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 leeks, sliced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups red wine
- 4-5 pounds oxtail
- Flour for dredging
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Beef Soup Base, Penzey's
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves or parsley
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons mild paprika
- 2 teaspoons coriander, ground
- 1 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed or ground
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- Salt and pepper
- Saute leeks, parsnip, carrot, beets, and celery in a large Dutch oven with 2 tablespoons olive oil until the onion is translucent and other veggies are just beginning to soften. Better to undersaute than oversaute, I always saute… Go ahead, say that aloud. Add mushrooms to vegetables and continue sauteing until mushrooms give up their liquids and remove into a large bowl.3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 parsnip, 2 carrots, 3 beets, 2 celery stalks, 3 leeks, 8 ounces mushrooms
- Place oxtail segments and remaining oil in the Dutch oven and brown oxtail on both sides, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Carefully remove segments into the bowl with the veggies. You don’t want to drop one and explain to your spouse that you were just chasing tail around the kitchen.3 tablespoons olive oil, 4-5 pounds oxtail, Salt and pepper
- Deglaze the Dutch oven with the wine and reduce it by half. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.2 cups red wine
- Add the water, stir in the beef soup base, dredge the oxtail segments through flour and toss into the pot. Shovel in the veggies, and add the remaining ingredients, stir, cover, and braise for 3½ hours. Remove the cover and braise for an additional 30 minutes to thicken to your liking.Flour for dredging, 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon Beef Soup Base, 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves or parsley, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 4 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons mild paprika, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1 teaspoon juniper berries, 1 teaspoon cayenne
- Skim fat from top of ragout, remove oxtail segments, pull meat from bones (it should be falling off by now) and return meat to the Dutch oven. Remove herbs and discard.Serve with plain egg noodles.