Enjoy amazing depth of flavour with oxtail
Oxtail you say? What’s that all about?
PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 6
DIFFICULTY: easy – low and slow so have some time but it does its own cooking
IDEAL FOR: easy weekend meal, family, friends, crowd-pleaser
I wanted something simple and packs loads of flavour to cook.
It’s not the standard cut of meat you think to pick up for a meal.
And it was once a cheap cut to buy.
But sadly, it’s become trendy so the price has risen.
But on the plus side, it means we know more about it and have more great recipes to try out.
Hearty, soul warmer
With Autumn showing it’s face and winter just beyond it, it’s time to think comfort food.
And oxtail is perfect for a rich, hearty, stew.
Or slow-braised oxtail with beans.
A lot of London’s most fashionable restaurants include oxtail on their menu’s.
So it must be worth a go!
What is it?
At one point, oxtail was considered a part of the animal that only poor people ate.
Oxtail needs a long time to cook because it’s so bony and fatty.
This made it cheap but provided lots of nutrients – it’s a good source of protein and iron.
It’s literally the tail of an ox (or it was back in the day).
But these days it comes from the tail of a cow of either sex.
The tail is skinned and cut into sections of different sizes as the tail narrows towards the end.
You’ll notice each section has marrow in the centre, surrounded by meat and fat.
This means it’s gelatin-rich which is perfect for stocks, soups, and braising.
How to cook oxtail
Slow-cooking turns the bone and cartilage into gelatin that is rich in flavour.
So needless to say, you can’t rush cooking oxtail, you have to be patient.
But you will be rewarded you with deliciously rich, syrupy flavours.
Of course, they can be used for stews and soups but I thought I’d try braising.
The long, slow braising in liquid.
In this case, a tomato-based liquid.
Braising oxtail will give you even more tender results while maximising flavour.
But you do need to plan for a long day of cooking—at least 3 hours.
Having said that, you don’t have to do much, just a small amount of prep then onto the stove and let the magic happen.
And the other bonus… leave it overnight and the flavours get even better!
What does taste like?
In a nutshell, it tastes like beef but it creates a deeply rich flavour.
I love slow-cooked Jacobs Ladder aka short ribs.
And comparing braised oxtail to the slow-cooked ribs, the oxtail is more tender with a silkier texture.
I wouldn’t give one up for the other though.
They both have their place.
And I think oxtail is the perfect cut to make lovely warming autumnal and winter comfort food.
In the recipe, I have included, below (inspired by Berber & Q), I spent time using my smoker for the final cook.
However, I did this on the weekend so I had more time.
But if you don’t have a smoker or don’t fancy the extra faff, the recipe also includes the oven version.
And, btw, if you did this recipe on a Sunday, it tastes amazing for a Monday-easy-meal.
If you’ve never tried oxtail, then give this recipe a go and let me know if you’ve been converted…
Slow-braised oxtail and beans
For the beans
- 3 x 400 g cannellini beans
- 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- 2 – 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 sprigs of sage
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 120 ml olive oil
- 800 g oxtail
- 100 ml olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped 1cm pieces
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 star anise
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 120 g tomato paste
- 100 ml red wine
- 1 kg tomato passata (or use tinned tomatoes)
- 2 tbsp date syrup (or honey)
- Drain the liquid from the cans and give a quick rinse. Then add to a pan with the onion, rosemary, sage, garlic and cumin and add water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and leave for approx 30mins (you don't want the beans to break up).Drain the beans in a colander and leave to one sid.e
For the braised oxtail
- Season the oxtail liberally with salt and pepper.In a cast iron or casserole dish, on the stove on a medium heat, add the olive oil and (in batches if necessary), seal the meat so it's brown on all sides.Remove the meat onto a wire rack once browned and set aside.
- In the same pan, over medium heat, add the onions, carrots, celery and cook until softened and translucent.Add the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes.Next, stir in the tomato paste and fry for approx 5mins before pouring in the red wine and stirring to deglaze the pan.Now, add in the passata, date syrup and gently place the oxtail back in before covering with water.Get to a simmer, then leave on your lowest setting, covered for 3 – 4hrs.You want the sauce to reduce and darken and the oxtail to be tender and almost falling apart.NB: you can add more water throughout the cooking as the oxtail should be submerged.
- Now, add the beans back into the dish and place in the oven (uncovered) for another 1 – 1.5hrs on 160C/140C fan.NB: instead of using your oven and to give a smoky taste, you can use your BBQ smoker to cook the oxtail and beans for another 2hrs on 120C.OR you could add some paprika to your dish in the oven