The first time I tried oxtail, it was right after we moved to England– I found a compelling recipe in the Nigel Slater Cookbook I had just bought my husband, and we found some at a local farm shop. My experience eating them was very similar to the first time I cooked and ate beef ribs: I was overcome with intense regret over the many years that I didn’t eat meat and missed this dish! Braised oxtail is sticky, sweet, dark and addictive. It became an instant family favorite, and I admit that we are all a little greedy about those bony little knobs of meat-candy. I’ll share with you how I made it this weekend, braising it in red wine, with orange and rosemary.
What You’ll Need:
(Serves three, but it’s very likely you’ll feel you haven’t had enough!)
an oxtail, cut into joints
butter or bacon grease or beef tallow– 2 tablespoons
several cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
a whole orange– cut in half, with one of the halves cut into wedges
a couple sprigs of rosemary
1/2 a bottle of an assertive red wine (I used Rioja)
What to Do:
1. Set the oven to 160º C or 325º F. On the stove top, heat up the fat of your choosing in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet. (Ok, so I used a cast iron skillet, but I underestimated the bulk of my oxtail, and had a hard time keeping it covered. I probably should have used a dutch oven!)
2. Brown your meat, rendering some of the fat on the oxtail pieces, and using tongs to turn it and get as much surface as you can. Remove to a plate.
3. Use all the fat and crispy bits in your pan to brown the onion and carrots, scraping with a wooden spatula. Squeeze half of the orange and keep scraping to deglaze the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the meat back in, and add the garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, and orange wedges, and season again.
5. Pour in the wine, and bring it all to a boil over high heat.
6. Cover the pot or skillet well, and put it in the heated oven. Let it braise slowly there, turning the meat after one hour, and checking to make sure there’s still liquid in the pan. Return to the oven for another hour, for a total of two hours braising time. The liquid should reduce almost completely, leaving the meat coated in a warm, sticky glaze.
I served ours with an herbal green salad, roasted sweet potatoes, and homemade sauerkraut. I always save the remains for brewing an extra-rich beef stock.
Have you tried oxtail before? Do you have a distinct “Where have you been all my life?!” food memory to share?