Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, oxtail wasn’t as popular as it is today. There are several restaurants and roadside vendors doing excellent things with oxtails, especially in the capital. My first encounter with Jamaican style stewed oxtails came via my friend’s grandmother in Canada. Granny with her busted knives (from cutting oxtails to cook) was a boss in the kitchen and was always willing to let me watch.
4 lbs oxtail (trimmed)
1 lemon (juice)
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon All-Purpose Seasoning
3/4 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon freeze dried garlic (or garlic powder)
1 tablespoon Caribbean Browning
1 tablespoon Dark Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2-3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon tomato concentrate paste
1 medium onion (diced)
5-7 sprigs thyme
4 large cloves garlic (smashed)
1 scotch bonnet pepper *
2 thick slices ginger
2 scallions (chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
5 cups water
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
5-9 Pimento berries (allspice)
1 can Lima (butter) beans
2 tablespoon Parsley (chopped finely)
Important! I cut my Scotch Bonnet pepper but if you want flavor and not the raw Caribbean Sunshine (heat) feel free to float the pepper and NOT break it. You will get the lovely flavor from the oils of the skin. Discard without breaking after you’re done cooking.
Get your butcher to cut the oxtails for you as your kitchen knives will NOT be able to do so. You want them somewhat the same size pieces so they cook the same time. Wash the oxtail pieces (trim off as much of the fat you can and discard) with the juice of the lemon and cool water. Rinse and drain dry.
Lets season and I highly recommend that you give this at least 2 hours (overnight is the best) to marinate and soak in all the wonderful flavors we’re about to add. In a large bowl with the clean oxtail pieces, add the salt, black pepper, soy sauce, all-purpose seasoning, dried garlic, Caribbean browning and Worcestershire sauce (my thing). Mix well and allow to marinate.
Heat a heavy/deep pot on a medium heat and add the olive oil. We’ll brown the pieces of seasoned oxtails at this point. Basically 4-6 minutes, then remove and set aside. Do this in batches so you don’t crowd the pot.
With all the browning done and the pieces removed from the pot, turn the heat down to low (remove any excess oil, you need about a tablespoon left back), add the tomato paste (my thing) and cook for 2 -3 minutes, so the natural sweetness comes out
Here’s where you’ll add back the oxtail p[ieces to the pot, follwed by the scallion, thyme, onion, garlic, scotch bonnet pepper and Caribbean Green Seasoning, stir well.
Turn up the heat to high and add the water so you bring it to a boil. As it comes to a boil, add the brown sugar and scrape the bottom of the pot to get all that flavor off the bottom of the pot. Toss in the allspice berries at this point as well.
It will take a few minutes to come to a boil. Then lid on and heat on LOW. We’ll slowly cook this until it’s fall-off-bones. Have the lid on the pot but slightly ajar so it can vent.
My oxtails took 2 hours and 45 minutes to be as tender as I like it. Here’s where you’ll add the canned beans (rinse with cool water first) and into the pot. Cook for 15 minutes so the beans absorb the flavors.. taste for salt and adjust accordingly NOTE! Depending on the age of the animal your meat came from, it can take longer to get tender. NO I do NOT like using a pressure cooker – but you can I guess.
Once the gravy is the cosistency you like, oxtails are tender and the salt is perfect, shut off the stove and top with the parsley.
- remove the sprigs from the thyme and the pimento (all spice) berries and discard.
Like I did, you’ll find ways to personalize this recipe to your own liking, so be creative. I usually cook a huge batch of this and freeze what is not consumed at dinner. Then when I feel like having a comforting Caribbean meal, I simply thaw and reheat on a very low heat and enjoy.
My adopted Jamaican Granny would be proud.
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