By Chris De La Rosa
Is there anything more comforting than fork-tender oxtails, served with a heaping pile of garlic and mashed cassava (yams or potato will work also) on a chilly night, when you’re tired from a long day?
Yes, there is. Oxtails, fork-tender stewed in a rich herb and wine sauce! The flavors of this dish will surely impress you, your family and the lucky friends you invite over for dinner.
While oxtail is a classic cut of meat to cook in the Caribbean, we rarely ever use wine in our cooking, so this may seem a bit strange for my Caribbean people. Nevertheless it is a stunning dish.
3 lbs oxtails (cut and trimmed)
2 scallions (chopped)
2 tablespoon veg oil
2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon black pepper (divided)
3/4 tablespoon salt (divided)
1 tablespoon tomato puree (concentrate)
2-3 cups beef stock
1 stalk celery (minced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 large carrot (sliced)
1 pimento pepper (minced)
1 cayenne pepper
1 cup red wine
4 sprigs thyme
3/4 teaspoon allspice
10-12 pearl onions
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
lime or lemon for washing the oxtail pieces
Have your butcher cut the oxtails into 1.5 inch pieces, as your kitchen knife will struggle to do so. Wash with cool water and the juice of a lime or lemon, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a heavy (oven-proof) pan on a medium heat. Dust the oxtail pieces with the flour, then add a 1/3 of it and brown on all sides. Remove and repeat until all the pieces of oxtails get a little color. The flour will help to develop a nice, thick gravy later, along with helping us achieve some color.
Remove all the oxtail pieces from the pan and set aside. Turn the heat down to low (add a bit more oil in the pan if it’s dry) and go in with the celery, scallions, pimento pepper and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, then add the tomato puree and stir well. If you can’t find pimento (aka seasoning) pepper, add a bit of diced bell pepper.
Now add the red wine to de-glaze the pan and cook out until it’s back to a relatively dry pan, after which you can crank up the heat and add the rest of the ingredients, followed by the beef stock. Bring to a boil.
Cover with foil and place on the middle rack in preheated 375 F oven. Be sure to keep an eye on things, in the event you need to add a bit more beef stock. After three hours and 15 minutes, the oxtails should be fork tender and you’ll have a thick and rich gravy. Taste for salt and adjust. Keep in mind that the beef stock you use may have a sodium element to it. Try not to break the cayenne pepper or risk the entire dish becoming peppery — unless that’s what you want. Do remember to skim off any fat (oxtails are notoriously fatty) and discard (not down your sink).
A classic oxtail stew, rich with flavors of herbs and wine. Watch the video below to see how I made a quick gremolata, which not only helps to cut the fattiness of the oxtails, but elevates the dish with a bright, fresh finish.
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/.