By Chris De La Rosa
While oxtails used to be “poor man’s” food, it’s price today tells a different story. So if you can’t source, or afford, oxtails, you can certainly use turkey-neck, cut into pieces.
Based on the typical brown-sugar-stewing method we use in the Caribbean, these oxtails will be properly seasoned, falling off the bone, and you’ll definitely be excited to serve this up.
2-3 lbs oxtails (trimmed)
1 small onion (diced)
1/3 scotch bonnet pepper (diced)
6 grape tomatoes (any tomato will work)
1 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
3/4 teaspoon salt (adjust)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ketchup
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2-4 drops angostura bitters (optional)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar (golden)
1 cup navy beans (soaked)
2 cloves garlic
6 allspice berries
4 sprigs thyme
1 + 1/2 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Have your butcher cut and trim the oxtails (try to remove as much fat as you can), then wash and season with the onion, scotch bonnet peppers, tomatoes, salt, black pepper, ketchup, Angostura bitters, Caribbean Green Seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and allow to marinate, for at least a couple hours in the fridge — overnight is best. May I also recommend that you soak the dried navy beans, covered in water, for at least 4 hours.
Next, it’s time to brown-stew the oxtails for flavor and color. In a heavy pot (one that can go in the oven), go in with the vegetable oil on high heat. Then add the brown sugar, and with a dry spoon, stir. It will melt, go frothy, then amber in color. Act fast and start adding the seasoned oxtail pieces (yes, it’s ok if the marinade goes in too) and stir well. If the sugar goes black, STOP! And start over, or it will be bitter in taste.
Cover the pot and cook, on medium heat, for about 7 minutes. It will sprout its own liquid, so you’ll need to remove the lid, crank up the heat to high, and burn off that liquid. That will infuse the oxtail dish with flavor and give it that rich color. It may take a few minutes. What I forgot to mention is, you can add the cup of water to the bowl, which you marinated the oxtails in, to pick up any renaming marinade that was left back.
Preheat your oven to 350F in the meantime. As all the liquid burns off and the pieces of oxtails are evenly browned, it’s time to add the water, soaked beans (discard the water, the beans were soaking in), scallion, garlic and thyme. Followed by the coconut milk and allspice berries, for that rich, island flavor. Bring to a boil and stir well.
Now it’s time to place it, covered, in the oven on the middle rack and have some patience. After about 2 hours, you may want to check it to make sure you still have liquid. If it does not, you can add about 1/2 cup water or coconut milk.
Back into the oven..…in total, you’ll need it in there for about 3 and a 1/2 hrs. After which, the beans will be tender, the meat will be falling off the bones, you’ll have a lovely rich and thick gravy and your kitchen should be blessed with an amazing scent. Taste for salt and adjust (I went low on the salt).
Remove the allspice berries and the stalks of thyme and discard, then top with the chopped parsley and get ready to serve.
If you find that it’s a bit oily at the top, you can skim that off and discard (NOT down your sink). This is an amazing way to prepare oxtails, which is not only very comforting, but overall, perfect for a chilly evening. Yes, it does take a bit of time, and I’m sure you can use a pressure cooker…..but I enjoy cooking, low and slow.
This recipe is courtesy of Gourmand Award winning cookbook author and founder of CaribbeanPot.com, Chris De La Rosa. With over 450 printable recipes with step by step cooking instructions and demo videos, PLUS over 1 million social/fan connections globally every month, CaribbeanPot.com is the world’s #1 resource of Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.