Friday, 15 November 2013

Oxtail stew

"Christmas is coming"

 What’s more delicious than the tail of a cow seasoned, browned and stewed?  Its truly a staple in Jamaica, not seasonal like sorrel and fruit cake, but consumed all year round, especially for Sunday and Christmas dinner.  Any good Jamaican restaurant (US or local) will serve oxtail as a lunch item, and if the restaurant cooks it especially well, please believe any lunch breaks falling after 1:30pm have a slim chance of getting any.  If you missed it during the week, and you have a loving cook at home, you can surely keep your hopes up for Sunday dinner. If your Sunday dinners consist of cereal or KFC then I’m sorry but you will have to wait till Christmas dinner to feast on the succulent bones.

The thing about oxtail that people always complain about it the price, considering that its mostly bone, the price still rivals that of a great T-bone or fillet.  However oxtails are expensive for the same reason chicken wings can bankrupt you; each cow has one tail and a chicken only two wings. So in order to feed a tribe of people let alone a restaurant full, you need quite a few cow tails.

This simple dish has so much flavor, however oxtail takes a fair amount of time to cook depending on the method you choose.  There are three main ways in which it can be done you can brown them and stew in the oven, over the stove top or in a pressure cooker. I always choose the pressure cooker because its cuts the cooking time way down. Doing it in the oven will afford you time to leave it relatively unattended, but the stove top method requires the most attention and time. 
Watch how I make this dish.

Serves 5
Ingredients (printable recipe)

3 lb Oxtail
1 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tbsp oil
5 cloves Garlic
2 small Onions
6 sprigs of thyme
1 stalk Scallion
1 Scotch bonnet pepper
1 tsp. allspice berries
 2 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. Black pepper
1 tsp. smoked paprika

For stew
2 tbsp. oil
1 sweet pepper
1 small onion
1 tbsp sugar
 ½ tsp. Black pepper
3 cups water (from de-glazing)
1 can drained butter beans (optional)

Greedy Tips:
  • You  want to make sure the oxtails are cooked and tender in the pressure cooker before removing them and doing the final reduction with the peppers and beans.
  • The butter beans are optional, but its a traditional Jamaican addition to the dish
  • Its best to let it marinate overnight, or at  least 4 hours
  • Depending on where you get your meat cooking times may vary. Mine took 40 minutes in the pressure cooker to become tender. 
  • Remember the tails are not all from the same cow, so some will cook much faster than others

June 1, 2016 update
Oxtail strew, no soy sauce, no pressure cooker

I made this oxtail for dinner today, abandoning all the practices I usually follow in an attempt to get a better flavor. It worked, if you have made the oxtail above you know its pretty tasty, however I can assure you the recipe below it better. Try it out


3 lb Oxtail
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tbsp oil
2 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
½ tsp. Black pepper
For stew
2 tbsp. oil
1 sweet pepper
3 cups home made chicken stock
1 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
1 teaspoon allspice powder


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  • Season the oxtail with all the marinade ingredients allow it to soak for at least and hour over night is best.
  • In a dutch pot heat up the two tablespoons of oil
  • Brown the oxtail in batches on both sides
  • Once they are browned remove them from the heat and set aside
  • Add the chicken or beef stock to the pot to de-glaze, add the browned oxtails, cover and place in the oven to cook
  • It should take about 2-3 hours of cooking in the oven for the oxtails to become tender.
  • Every 30 to 45 minutes check the pot to make sure all the liquid has not dried out. If it is dried out add hot water, fill 3/4 of the way up the meat, do not cover to oxtail completely.
  • Once the meat is tender transfer the pot back to the stove to reduce the remaining liquid to a gravy.
  • Add the peppers, sugar, allspice and salt to taste.
  • once the gravy has reduced remove from the heat and serve.

Xoxo Greedygirl

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