I became a fan of oxtails after the prices sky-rocketed.. yea my luck. Back when I first moved to Canada, the butchers would practically beg customers to take oxtails off their counter. That’s definitely not the case today. The odd time it comes on sale it’s usually around $3.50 / lb, but the quality is not the best. Loaded with fat and usually from aged animals (difficult to cook tender), you’re stuck with having to trim it all off so your finished dish is not laden with grease. So it makes more sense to just pay the typical $5+ a pound for the good stuff if you want your finished dish to really sparkle.
2 lbs oxtail
3 large potatoes
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust accordingly)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 stalks celery
5 sprigs fresh thyme
7 allspice berries (pimento berries)
5-6 cups of water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
pinch brown sugar
Note: You can add more vegetables if you really want to stretch this dish for more people. Adjust the salt to your liking if you do add more ingredients.
Wash and dry the pieces of oxtail (ask your butcher to cut them into pieces for you as the bones can be very HARD), then heat the oil in a deep pan on med/high heat and brown the pieces of oxtail. Takes about 10 minutes or so.
Remove the now browned pieces of oxtail from the pot, turn the heat down to low and add the onion, garlic and celery (diced) and allow to cook gently for 3 minutes. Then add the pimento berries and black pepper and give it a good stir, followed by the tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to cook for a minute or so to allow the natural sugars in the tomato to caramelize a bit. The tomato paste will add a lovely acidic twist to the dish and help us develop a wonderful gravy.
Add the pieces of oxtail back to the pot and all the other ingredients except the carrots and potatoes. Turn the heat up, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let it cook with the lid on for about 2 hours.Remember to stir every 20 minutes or so and skim off any frothy residue at the top of the pot. The all spice (pimento berries) will add a lovely warm and homely feel to this stew and quite honestly a key ingredient.
You’ll notice in the picture above that I left the scotch bonnet pepper whole as I want the flavor from it but not the ray heat. At the end of cooking (try not to break it) you can fish the pepper out and discard (or give it to anyone who love HEAT). If you find that your oxtail is not tender after the 2 hrs of braising, add a bit more water and let it cook for another 30 minutes or so. Then add the chopped carrot and potatoes (try to leave the potato in big pieces so it does not dissolve when cooked), bring to a boil (turn up the heat), then reduce to a rolling boil and cook for about 30 minutes or until the potato and carrot are tender.
Here’s where you’ll personalize the dish (remember to take out the scotch bonnet pepper) by adjusting the salt to your liking and getting the gravy to the consistency you like. When you turn off the stove you can top with some finely chopped parsley for a nice punch of color.
The first taste and you’ll know why I dubbed this the ultimate oxtail stew. With tender pieces of oxtails, in the perfect Caribbean influenced gravy and the heartiness from the carrot and potato chunks will hit the spot on those cold winter nights (in my case). An excellent recipe to replace soup-Saturday’s on the islands.. be sure to add more vegetables and I’m sure some eddoes, green bananas and yam would be an excellent addition.
After posting a pic of this Guinness braised oxtail on the Facebook fan page a while back, I’ve been overwhelmed with requests for the recipe. Just when you thought I forgot or ignoring those requests, here it is. Absolutely one of the best oxtail recipes I’ve shared to date and though it’s not something you think when you think about Caribbean cuisine, with our love for both Guinness and oxtails… yea, I assure you this will be a hit and fits well with our culinary culture.
It does take some time to cook, but if you have a slow cooker you can create the base on the stove and let the slow cooker do the rest. If using a slow cooker, you may find that oil may accumulate at the top – spoon off. And those of you who own a pressure cooker.. do your thing. It will cut back on the cooking time.
One more thing before we get to the actual recipe… directly below the recipe you’ll have the chance to win a wonderful box of candy as part of Valentine’s Day celebration. Enter your name as I’d love to send this out to one lucky winner.
2 lbs oxtail (cut/trimmed of excess fat)
1 can tomato paste (156 ml / 5.5oz)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large onion
1 1/2 cups diced celery
2 large carrots
2 cans Guinness (see note below)
1 cup water
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 habanero pepper (any hot pepper you like – optional)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Notes. The hot pepper is optional, but I love the heat and additional flavor. I used Guinness draft but I know we get the extra stout in the Caribbean, which is a bit stronger… rest assured that the alcohol will burn off so you don’t have to worry about that. If you want to start off with a good flavor base, replace the vegetable oil with coconut oil.
Wash the pieces of oxtail in some lime or lemon juice and cool water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pan on med/high heat and start browning the pieces of oxtail. Try not to crowd the pan (BTW if you want you can use 3 lbs of oxtail to feed more people if you wish – simply adjust the salt) or it will release a ton of moisture and you’ll notice it will start to boil and not brown. It should take about 10-15 minutes, remember to keep turning the pieces of oxtail.
Remove the oxtail pieces and set aside for a bit. Turn the heat down to low and add the onion, celery, black pepper, oregano and thyme (leave on the stem if you wish as you can remove it later on). Allow this to cook on a very low heat for about 3-5 minutes.
Now add the tomato paste and give it a good stir. We’re trying to release the natural sugars in the tomato and create a rich base. You’ll notice that it will go darker and there will be a lovely scent in your kitchen. Cook for about 2-3 minutes – keep stirring.
Return the pieces of oxtail to the pot as well as the carrots (cut the carrots in huge chunks), bay leaves and salt. Give that a good stir, turn up the heat to high and add the 2 cans of Guinness. Stir well and bring to a boil with the lid covered. When it comes to a boil, lower the heat to a rolling boil (low) and let cook for about 20 minutes. This is when you’ll add the whole habanero pepper to the pot. Remember to keep it whole for flavor and not the heat. Burst open near the end if you want the excitement of the heat.
After 20 minutes it’s time to add the water and bring it back up to a boil (this would be when I would add everything to a slow cooker or pressure cooker if that’s your plan). When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and allow to cook for about 3 hours or until the meat starts falling off the bones. Continue stirring every 15 minutes or so and if you notice you’re running low on liquid.. add a bit more water. After 3 hours it should be tender… take out the sprigs from thyme, the hot pepper (if you don’t want the heat) and turn up the heat with the pot uncovered to thicken up the rich gravy.
If you want to add a bit more Caribbean influence you can always add a few pimento berries to the pot and a 1/2 teaspoon of green seasoning paste. This is great on rice, mashed potato, roasted breadfruit, ground provisions… even roti or bread. I did a cassava mash, which I’ll share with you in the next couple days. Here’s the video I did to help you follow along the cooking process:
It’s that time again! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re giving one lucky winner a box of Marshmallow Hearts (milk chocolate coated) from Cémoi Chocolatier. The box of chocolate covered hearts will be shipped to the lucky winner after we receive their shipping address (we even pay the shipping cost). All you have to do is tell me what’s your favorite valentines day dish in the comment section below and your name will be automatically entered to win. Yea.. it’s that simple.
There are two bonus ways you can have your name entered in the contest, giving you 3 chances at winning. Along with leaving a comment below, go to the Facebook fan page and/or the Youtube cooking channel and leave a comment there. I don’t care what your comment is, but it would be nice if you could tell me what’s your fav Valentine’s Day dish.
Here are the rules pertaining to winning the box of “Marshmallow Hearts - Cémoi Chocolatier”…
- contest is open to everyone globally (even if you won something here before)
- there are 3 ways to enter your name (see above)
- 1 winner will be chosen at random (if you left 3 comments, your name will be entered 3 times)
- contest is open from February 14 – to midnight Feb 26.
- the winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.
- the winners will have 1 week to contact us with their mailing address
- we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)
I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this box of chocolates to you. It’s simple, free and fellas you could give to the special lady in your life if you forgot to have something on Valentine’s day.
Oxtail was one of those things which was never cooked in our home while growing up (I don’t ever recall my mom cooking this back then), so it’s not something I learned to cook from the main culinary influences in my life… mom, dad, aunt and grandmothers. But the immigrant life is one in which you tend to associate with people who are similar to you and can relate to your struggles, so my friends were from other Caribbean islands. Partially living in each others homes, saw us not only learn about the food from each island, but we all grew a new appreciation for the diverseness of the Caribbean in general. Though the basic foundation to Caribbean food is the same, the end product and methods of preparation can differ.
This recipe for cooking oxtail with butter beans is one I picked up from a restaurant owner (had to beg d man to share) where I would go get my weekly fill of Caribbean food which I didn’t have to cook. I’m sure he didn’t tell me his secrets, but I did add a few things to give it my personal touch. BTW, did you know that the last Stewed Oxtail recipe I shared a while back is one of the more popular dishes I have on the site? See: Savory oxtail in a rich and thick gravy. Take a look at all the comments below it.
2lbs of oxtail (ask your butcher to cut it into 1 inch pieces)
1 tin of butter beans (lima)
5 cups of water
2 scallion (green onions)
1/2 a scotch bonnet pepper (I used a whole one)
3 cloves of garlic
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/2 tablespoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
* You’ll need about 3 tablespoons of lime or lemon juice to wash the oxtail pieces with (use vinegar as well).
Place the cut pieces of oxtail in a bowl and pour the lime juice over it, give it a good stir and pour in some water. Wash each piece off, then drain. Rinse with cool water and pat dry. Now in a fairly large pan, heat the vegetable oil on high and brown the pieces of oxtail. Try not to crowd the pan or it will not brown properly and it will release a tons of liquid. I did mine in two batches.
While this was browning (takes about 15 minutes) I prepared the other ingredients (wash, peeled and chopped)
With the pieces of oxtail all browned, you may need an extra tablespoon of vegetable oil in the pan (not mentioned in the ingredients list above).. add the diced onion and garlic. Let that cook on medium heat for a few minutes. Then add back the pieces of oxtail and top with the herbs and vegetables.
Give that good stir, then add the salt, black pepper and allspice. Now top with the 5 cups of water (enough water to cover everything) and bring to a boil. When it starts boiling, reduce to as low as you can and have it at a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and let that simmer (braise) for about 2 hrs or until the meat is tender. We’d like to have the meat fall off the bones. Depending on the age of the oxtail it may take a bit longer for you. If you have a pressure cooker, this will save you a ton of cooking time. NOTE: If you’re using dried butter beans, now would be the time to put them in as well, so they too get tender.
Rinse the can of beans to remove the salty brine-like solution its packed in and add it to the pot. Cover and let cook for another 20 minutes.. until the beans are infused with the flaovours of the stewed oxtails and so that the gravy thickens up a bit. Be gently when handling the beans as they are very tender and can fall apart very easily. NOTE: I cheated a bit and added a 1/4 teaspoon of Caribbean style browning. But this is totally optional.. I wanted a nice caramel colour to my finished dish.
This is one of those dishes where you must have patience to allow it to slowly cook and do it’s thing.. to get tender. Besides this method or using a pressure cooker, I’m sure you can also add everything to a slow cooker (after you’ve browned the ox tail pieces) and let it cook slowly all day while you relax. This pot was enough to serve about 5 people with a side of rice and peas and a nice fresh green salad.
It’s that time again – we’re giving away the following book (see below) to one lucky person for the month of August. All you have to do is leave me a comment in the comments section below (please say something about this recipe) and your name will be automatically entered to win this fascinating book written by Judi Krogh. If you recall I did a feature on “Easy Cooking In the Caribbean” a few weeks back and with the kindness of Dallison and the Krogh family, we’re able to give out a copy to one lucky winner.
There are two bonus ways you can have your name entered in the contest, giving you 3 chances at winning. Along with leaving a comment below, go to the Facebook fan page and/or the Youtube cooking channel and leave a comment there. I don’t care what your comment is, but it would be nice if you could tell me what you like about Caribbean food and if the recipes I share are helpful.
Here are the rules pertaining to winning the copy of “Easy Cooking In The Caribbean”…
- contest is open to everyone globally
- there are 3 ways to enter your name (see above)
- 1 winner will be chosen at random (if you left 3 comments, your name will be entered 3 times)
- contest is open from August 11 – to midnight August 31.
- winner will be announced within 1 week of the official close date.
- the winner will have 1 week to contact us with mailing address
- we will cover all shipping expenses (standard mail)
I hope you take a moment to enter your name as I’d really like to mail this book out to you. It’s simple, free and a great way to experiment with some traditional and non-traditional Caribbean dishes in your kitchen. Judi left us a wonderful resource that reflects her lifetime passion for cooking and sharing meals with family and friends.
Oye! before you go… Remember you can watch the cooking videos on the recipe channel and we’d love to interact with you on our Facebook fan page. There’s a few thousand of us already causing commesse on there… so do check it out.
Oxtail soup is not something I grew up on. Just as the reaction on my daughters face when she asked what I was cooking yesterday, I’m sure I would give my mom the same look if she said it was oxtail on the menu. That look from Kieana got even worse when I confirmed what oxtail really was and I ended up making them a pizza for dinner. Well… more for me I guess! If you like thick, savory soups and don’t mind waiting as it slowly bubbles away under a gentle heat, you’re in for an absolute treat. This recipe is very similar to a salted pigtail soup my uncle would make on a Monday after a weekend of partying (That man never worked a Monday as far as I know, growing up), but his would have dumplings and/or macaroni and green fig (green banana).
1 1/2 – 2 lbs oxtail – ask your butcher to cut it into 1-2 inch pieces.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs yam
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 eddoes (about 1 lb)
3 medium potatoes
3 sprigs thyme
4 leaves of shado beni or about 4 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt (may need more according to your taste)
2 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 large onion diced
1 large carrot sliced
1 cup split peas (optional)
about 8 cups of water (see note in cooking directions)
1 hot pepper (I used a habanero – use your fav pepper)
1 pack cock soup (I used Grace brand)
1 teaspoon Golden Ray salted butter (optional, but adds a nice punch at the end)
* Feel free to add any other ground provisions (green fig, dasheen,cassava etc) you may like or have, just be sure to use a pot big enough and you’ll need to add a bit more water in cooking.
* For people outside the Caribbean where ground provisions (yam, sweet potato and eddoes) may be hard to source, feel free to use winter root vegetables instead. Like turnips,parsnips, rutabaga etc.
If anyone is unsure about ground provisions or need help knowing how to shop for them or how to peel etc, leave me a comment in the comment section below and I’ll try my best to help you out.
Let’s get cooking….
Start by getting a large pot, add the oil and heat on medium/high heat. Rinse off the cut pieces of oxtail (my butcher cut the piece a bit smaller than I wanted) since they may have a bit of grit left from the band-saw used in cutting. Dry off with a paper towel and ad to the pot. Brown all sides and remember to stir or risk having the pieces of meat stick to the pan. In the mean time, dice you carrots and onions. As the meat is evenly browned on all sides, move them to the side of the pot and add the tomato paste to the middle of the pan, then stir the browned pieces of oxtail to pick up on the tomato paste. This process will help release the natural sugar from the tomato paste, as well as give the soup a nice rich reddish colour.
Now you can start adding the thyme, black pepper, diced onions and garlic and allow to cook for a couple minutes so they too can release their flavours. Turn the heat down to minimum as you do this step. After 3-4 minutes you can add the sliced carrots to the pot as well. Remember to keep stirring.
Quickly go through the dried split peas to ensure there’s nothing foreign in there, wash a couple times with water to remove any grit and add to the pot. You can now add the hot pepper, salt, bay leaf, diced scallion and shado beni (chopped fine) to the pot. Then pour in the 8 cups of water and bring to a boil (high heat). I like leaving the hot pepper whole so I can take it out later. As it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow this to slowly simmer for about 1.5 – 2 hrs with the pot covered. Basically until the oxtail is tender and the split peas is cooked to the point where it’s breaking apart. This is what’s going to thicken our soup. Open up your windows and give your neighbors the aroma of the excitement that’s happening on your stove. risk them coming over and asking questions though – nosy ones will try to remain for a bowl or 2.
In the meantime we can peel and cut the provisions (potato,yams, sweet potato and eddoes). If you’re doing this in advance, after peeling and cutting, be sure to put it in a deep bowl and cover with cool water to prevent them from going discolored. I like my ground provisions chunky so you’ll notice that I cut them into fairly large pieces. The eddoes I cut into 2 pieces, so too the sweet potato and potato. The yam I try to cut into the same size as everything else, so they all finish cooking at the same time.
After the braising process (my oxtail was tender after 2 hrs) it’s time to add the the cock soup and ground provisions. Rinse off the ground provisions (after peeling and cutting) and gently place into the pot. This is why we need a large pot. Make sure all the pieces of provisions is totally covered by liquid (you may need to add more water) so they can cook evenly. During this final cooking process, the more you stir the pot, the more thick the soup will get.As the ground provisions will start to break down and the combination of these pieces and the starch, will thicken the soup.
Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer again and allow to cook for about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. When you can pierce the largest piece of ground provision with a knife without any resistance, you know they’re fully cooked. The final 5 minutes is when you’d add the Golden ray butter if you have some. Remember to fish out the hot pepper (I kept mine in as I love the heat) and the sprig from the thyme before serving. People outside the Caribbean will probably consider this a heavy stew for sure, but on the islands this is exactly how we like our soup.
Serve piping hot and there’s no need for bread or any fancy topping like the soups you get in the restaurants in North America. Word of warning though… you may find yourself falling asleep minutes after devouring a bowl of this oxtail goodness. My brothers and sisters may know this affliction commonly as “ritis”. I was out for a couple hrs. If you’re looking for another tasty oxtail recipe, be sure to check out my stewed oxtail.
Note: You can precook your ground provisions if you’d like and simply add it to the pot after the oxtails are tender, so your cooking time will be reduced. And you can also use a pressure cooker to braise the (first steps before adding the provisions) and really reduce on cooking time.
Be sure to check out the links to the other soup recipes below and don’t forget to connect with us on facebook by clicking on the image below (there’s already over 1800 of us in the Facebook group). BTW, if you’d like a quick recipe for dumplings to add to this soup, leave me a comment below as I know how much my Caribbean people love off on dumplings.
My very first experience with oxtail was not a pleasant one and it was years until I tried it again. This is going back about 19 years ago when my good friend Richard was just starting off his Dj and music production escapades. Richard, Allyene and myself were on one of our weekly runs to the Toronto to pick up the latest releases from Jamaica (I believe it was on Eglinton Ave), back in those days it was 33′s and 45′s and not cds as we have today. We stopped off at one of the many Caribbean fast-food restaurants that populate the area to grab some food to eat on the trip back to Hamilton. I don’t recall what the other fellas got, but I do remember hungrily eating away at the oxtail with rice and peas. Then it hit me. A sharp-cut bone stabbed me in the roof of my mouth. I can still remember the pain that sucker put on me. I stopped eating (well couldn’t) immediately and between cussing and grimacing from the pain, I promised to never touch the stuff again. Took me a few years to get over that fear of being attacked by sharp-cut oxtail bones.
Here’s a simple recipe for stewed oxtail which I tested perfected yesterday… no sharp edges to hurt you
2 lbs oxtail cut and trimmed into 1-2 inch pieces
1 tomato diced
1 onion sliced thin
1 stalk celery diced
black pepper (fresh ground is best) 1/4 teaspoon
hot pepper (I used 1/2 habanero) this is optional
1 tablespoon green seasoning
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard (nothing fancy)
1/2 teaspoon crushed ginger 9I used the bottled stuff)
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
2-3 cloves of garlic crushed
1 lime / lemon or vinegar (4 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon ketchup
* If you don’t have the green seasoning prepared. Use a combination of green onions (scallions), cilantro or shado beni and thyme. About 1 tablespoon each…chopped very fine.
Start by placing the cut pieces of oxtail in a large bowl (remember to remove as much fat as you can – keep it a bit healthy) and squeeze the lime or lemon juice on it. Use vinegar if you don’t have limes or lemons. Pour some water (not the water mentioned in the recipe) in the bowl and wash each piece of oxtail. If your butcher used a band-saw to cut the pieces for you, there’s the chance that there may be some gritty stuff from the cut bones left on the meat. Rinse with cold water as need. Drain and get ready for seasoning.
The seasoning consist of all the ingredients mentioned above, except the oil, sugar and 4 cups of water. Mix well and allow this to marinate for at least 2 hrs in the fridge.
As we’ve done in other “stew” dishes, we have to bring the oil to a high temp in a heavy pot and add the brown sugar. Stir so the entire lot changes colour evenly and get to the perfect point to add the seasoned meat. The key is allowing the sugar get to a caramel colour, so each piece of oxtail will get browned evenly. The pics below will show you what to look for.
When the sugar gets like the pic directly above, start adding the seasoned pieces of oxtail. Stir, reduce to medium heat and cover. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Then bring the heat back to high and burn off all the liquid (remove the lid). Stir during this process so the pieces of meat gets coated evenly. Add the 4 cups of water to the bowl that had the seasoned meat to pick up any remaining seasoning that was left behind. When the liquid dries up in the pot, add the 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil (covered), then reduce the heat so it’s a gentle simmer. PATIENCE.. allow this to cook, stirring occasionally for about 1 3/4 hours. Then remove the lid and turn up the heat so you can achieve a nice thick gravy. Remember to turn off the heat and remove from the burner when you have a thick gravy or risk not having any of that nice rich sauce.
In the coming months I’ll share a couple other ways to cook this popular Caribbean meat. One in the oven (didn’t want to turn on the oven since it’s summer time here and we don’t need all that heat in the house. And the other way is a more traditional Jamaican way. Stay tuned, and don’t forget to leave me your comments or questions in the area provided below.