Braised Oxtail

Braised Oxtail

The Spruce / Armando Rafael

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1493 Calories
82g Fat
40g Carbs
132g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1493
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 82g 105%
Saturated Fat 28g 142%
Cholesterol 425mg 142%
Sodium 877mg 38%
Total Carbohydrate 40g 14%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 132g
Vitamin C 8mg 40%
Calcium 149mg 11%
Iron 11mg 61%
Potassium 2380mg 51%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Although back in the day oxtail was literally the tail of an ox, nowadays it refers to any tail coming from any cattle, male or female, but usually a steer. Oxtail is a singular but wonderful piece of meat. Thick at one end and skinny at the other with a bone running down the center, oxtail is sold cut into sections, which means you'll usually get a few big meaty pieces and a few really little ones. Because processing this cut is labor-intensive as it needs to be skinned and butchered with skill, the tail is one of the most expensive cuts of meat per pound—and 50 percent of its weight is just bone. But it is also one of the most succulent cuts when properly prepared.

Once considered "poor man's food," when it was thought of as scraps from a butchered cow, the oxtail's appeal has been discovered by chefs and gourmands and become a staple in modern cuisine, even if Caribbean, Spanish, and Hispanic cultures have treated this cut with reverence for hundreds of years.

The oxtail has a lot of cartilage and connective tissue, so it needs to be cooked low and slow for a long time using moist heat. One such method is braising, which melts away all those sinewy bits and turns them into gelatin, yielding flavorful meat and a very rich and delicious sauce. Pressure cookers are also an option to cook oxtail, but nothing beats time and patience. Oxtail is best served with something to soak up the sauce, like pasta, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, or creamy polenta.

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds oxtail, cut into pieces

  • 1/4 cup canola oil (or other vegetable oil)

  • 2 to 3 medium onions, peeled and diced

  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 1 cup red wine

  • 4 cups beef stock

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 2 to 3 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Braised oxtail recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  2. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Pat dry the oxtail pieces well with paper towels to help the exterior achieve a better browning when searing.

    Dry the oxtail with paper towels

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  3. In a heavy, cast-iron Dutch oven or brazier, heat the oil over high heat. Add the oxtails and sear them thoroughly, turning to brown on all sides. Once they've developed a nice brown crust, remove the oxtails from the pan and set them aside.

    Cook oxtail in a Dutch oven with oil

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  4. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and garlic to the pot. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are slightly translucent.

    Cook diced onions and garlic in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  5. Add the wine and using a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, scrape all the browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan.

    Cook onions and garlic with wine in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  6. Return the oxtails to the pot along with the stock. Add the tomato paste, bay leaves, peppercorns, and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Cook oxtail with onions, herbs, and tomato paste

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  7. Bring the heat to high until the liquid boils. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and carefully transfer the pot to the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours.

    Oxtail cooking in a blue Dutch oven

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  8. Remove the pot from the oven, take off the lid, and let the meat cool in the braising liquid while preparing the sauce. Ladle out about 2 cups of the braising liquid and pour them through a mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup. Skim off any fat from the top.

    Strain the braising liquid from the oxtail

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  9. Heat the butter in a separate saucepan over medium-high heat, then gradually stir in the flour until a paste forms. Heat for a few minutes, stirring until the roux is of a light brown color.

    Roux from butter and flour

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  10. Whisk the strained hot cooking liquid into the roux a little at a time. Simmer the sauce for about 15 minutes until thickened. Pass it through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any lumps and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Roux combined with oxtail cooking liquid

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

  11. Remove the oxtails from the pot, place them on a deep serving platter or individual plates, and spoon over a generous portion of the sauce. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy.

    Braised oxtail on a white plate

    The Spruce / Armando Rafael

For Perfect Browned Meat

To achieve perfect browning, some cooks prefer to pat dry the meat and toss it in cornstarch or flour, which will also help thicken the sauce. However, this is not always necessary for great browning. Simply:

  • Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for at least 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Dry it thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Place it in a very hot pan—if your pot isn't wide enough to hold all of the oxtails in one layer with space in between, sear the meat in batches.

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