Yea… another recipe you won’t traditionally find in the Caribbean, but with my luv for oxtails, you know I have several recipes in my arsenal (and willing to share). So I dedicate this recipe to my friends who appreciate oxtails, but more importantly… delicious and comforting one-pot meals.
3-4 lbs oxtails (cut 1 1 1/2 inch)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 stalks celery (chopped)
2 scallions (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (smashed)
8 sprigs thyme (divided)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 allspice berries
1/3 cup Port (sweet, red, fortified wine from Portugal)
4 turnips (cubed)
3 medium red onion
2 carrots (sliced)
2 parsnips (cubed)
15-20 button mushrooms
1 lb baby potato
2 cups cubed pumpkin
3/4 tablespoon salt
8-10 cups beef stock
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
top with chopped parsley
Important! Try to get your butcher to cut (band saw) the oxtails for you as the bones are very tough. 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 into the pot to brown. Please do it in batches as if they’re too close together it will cause steam and the oxtail will release it’s liquid and star boiling. Note – as the meat shrinks as it brown, it will not make proper contact with the hot oil, so browning at that point can be challenging. 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, thyme (1/2) 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.
2 1.2 hours later and the oxtails were fully cooked and tender, BUT be mindful that depending on the age of your oxtail (animal when it was butchered), it can be TOUGH and may require another 30 – 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 2 times 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.