By Chris De La Rosa
Yeah..…another recipe you won’t traditionally find in the Caribbean, but with my love for oxtails, you know I have several recipes in my arsenal — and I’m willing to share.
So, I dedicate this recipe to my friends, who appreciate oxtails, but, more importantly, delicious, comforting one-pot meals.
3-4 lbs of oxtails (cut in 1 to 1-1/2 inch pieces)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 stalks of celery (chopped)
2 scallions (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (smashed)
8 sprigs of thyme (divided)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 allspice berries
1/3 cup of Port (sweet, red, fortified wine from Portugal)
4 turnips (cubed)
3 medium-sized red onions
2 carrots (sliced)
2 parsnips (cubed)
15-20 button mushrooms
1 lb baby potatoes
2 cups of cubed pumpkin
3/4 tablespoon salt
8-10 cups of beef stock
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
Important! Try to get your butcher to cut up the oxtails for you, as the bones are very hard. I’d also recommend trimming off, as much fat as you can, from it, and discard. Feel free to wash the pieces of oxtails with cool water and the juice of a lime or lemon, then pat dry with paper towels, before dusting in flour.
In a big, deep, heavy pot (one that’s oven-proof), add the oil on a medium flame, dust the oxtail pieces in flour and put into the pot to brown. Please do it in batches, because if they’re too close together, it will cause steam and the oxtail will release its liquid and start boiling.
Note: as the meat shrinks as it browns, it will not make proper contact with the hot oil, so browning at that point can be challenging. leave for 3-4 minutes per side, then set aside in a bowl.
In the same pot (oxtails now removed), on a low flame, add the celery, scallions, garlic, half of the thyme and cook for 3 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil, if necessary.
Add the tomato paste and stir, well, to coat the bottom of the pot and develop it’s natural sugars. Go in with the black pepper and continue cooking, on low, for 2-3 minutes.
Add the bay leaves, along with the pimento berries (allspice), and de-galze with the Port (use red wine if you wish), scrape the bottom of the pot and bring to a boil.
2-3 minutes later, it’s time to add the browned oxtails and any accumulated juices. Stir well and crank up the heat to med/high. Coat the oxtail pieces with all that goodness. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Now it’s time for the ‘body’ of the stew, so toss in the potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, turnip, sweet potato and pumpkin (please cubed them LARGE as we will cook in the oven for a long time and we want to maintain some texture when it’s done).
For more flavor, add the salt, beef stock, remaining thyme and Worcestershire sauce. For a little sweetness, you can add a teaspoon of brown sugar (not mentioned in the ingredient list). Bring to a boil (on the stove top), put the lid on, then onto the middle rack of the oven.
Two-and-a-half hours later and the oxtails should be fully cooked and tender, BUT be mindful that, depending on the age of your oxtail (the animal when it was butchered), it can be tough and may require another 30 to 60 minutes of cooking. So this is where you test it, adjust the salt to your liking and thicken (cook with the lid off) if necessary.
I think I stirred it twice, during the time in the oven and, yes, you can add some heat with some dried pepper flakes or Caribbean Sunshine (Scotch Bonnet) if you want a little kick.
Top with the parsley and enjoy! A delicious one-pot dish that’s comforting and filling.
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 for Caribbean Culinary Culture. Connect with Chis on Instagram: www.instagram.com/caribbeanpot/.