In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

The Ultimate Oxtail Pelau.


I speak a LOT about comfort food and dishes which takes me back to a place and time in the Caribbean where life was GRAND. I was a carefree lil man, mommy spoiled us tremendously (especially at dinner time) and Caribbean everyday life was just joyous. I wish my children would have known/experienced that kind upbringing. Canada nice, but that life was SWEET (as we say).

You’ll Need…

5 lbs oxtails (trimmed)
1/2 lemon (juice)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worchester sauce
2 tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 seasoning pepper (pimento or roulette)
1 large onion (diced)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoon golden (light) brown sugar
1 large carrot (sliced)
4 sprigs thyme
2 scallions (chopped)
2 cups coconut milk
6-8 cups water divided
2 1/2 cups par-boiled brown rice
1 1/2 cup diced pumpkin
2 stalks celery (diced)
10-12 okra (cut in rings)
1 1/2 cups pigeon peas
1/3 lb baby spinach
2 tablespoon parsley (chopped)

Important! Please get your butcher to cut your oxtail into 1 inch pieces as you home knife or cleaver will not be able to cut through the bones. Be sure to trim off all excess fat and discard. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling the Scotch Bonnet Pepper.

Use the juice of the lemon and cool water (not mentioned in the ingredient list) to wash the pieces of oxtail and try your best to trim off as much of the fat as you can. The saw the butcher will use to cut it, will leave-back a gritty bone dust.

Place the washed and drained oxtail pieces in a large bowl and season with the salt, black pepper, ketchup, Worchester sauce, onion, scotch bonnet pepper (adjust to your preference), seasoning pepper (optional) and Caribbean Green Seasoning. Mix well and set aside to marinate for a couple hours. Overnight is best.

In a large heavy pot on high flame, add the coconut oil (use any oil you want, I just luv the flavor of the coconut oil in this dish) followed by the brown sugar. This is the ‘stewing” process and rest assured it will not sweeten the dish. The sugar will melt, go frothy, then deep amber (NOT BLACK), this is when you add the seasoned oxtails to the pot. Yea marinade and all. Add a few pieces at a time and stir to coat. Watch the video below to see this step.

As it comes to a boil, reduce to low and cover the pot. Yes it will spring it’s own juices.

After 15 minutes, it’s time to further develop color and flavor by burning off all that natural liquid. Heat on high now and lid off.

When all the liquid is gone and you see the oil we started with (it will take about 5-7 minutes), it’s time to add the fresh thyme, scallions, carrot and grated ginger. Give it a stir. please note that the ginger will have a fiery note. Pour in the coconut milk and 2 cups of water (swish that water in the same bowl you marinated the oxtail in to pick up any marinade remnants).

In about 5 minutes on high heat it will come to a boil, reduce the heat to low, lid on and allow this slowly cook.

2 1/2 hours later, the oxtail is tender. BUT.. be mindful, depending on the age of the animal when it was harvested, it may take longer to go tender. Adjust the cooking time to suit. I paid a bit expensive at the butcher for this batch as he said “tender – cook quickly”.. with his Eastern European accent.

Now add the pumpkin, okra (yes, not traditional… however you want this), pigeon peas, celery and carrot. Stir, then add the washed rice. Basically washing rice means to rinse with cool water, drain and repeat until the water runs clear.

Heat on high at this point. Add the remaining water and bring to a boil. Toss in the spinach as this point as well. As it comes to a boil, reduce to a rolling boil and lid OFF.

Basically all you’re waiting for now is the rice to go tender, plump and most of the liquid to burn off. It will take about 25 minutes or so. BUT.. here is where you get to personalize things a bit. Check the salt and adjust to your liking and once the rice is tender you have the option to burn off all the liquid and get a “Dry” Pelau, or do like me and go ‘Wet”. Meaning it’s a bit moist and runny. In the pics below it’s WET, but it did dry up a bit more as the residual heat from the pot further thickened things up. As you turn off the stove, top with the parsley.

Besides having Team “Wet” vs Team “Dry” when it’s comes to this classic one-pot masterpiece from the Caribbean, the overall color is also a major talking point when it comes to Pelau. Some people like it much darker than what you see in the images, but in my defense the 2 massive overhead camera lights did brighten up the pics more than what they were naturally. Getting it darker is something we’ll discuss in another Pelau recipe. Serve HOT!

At the beginning I talked about how much I enjoyed being born and growing up in the Caribbean.. know that I do enjoy and give thanks for my life in Canada as well.

Drop me your comments below, tag me on Instagram and don’t forget you can now get my cookbook – The Vibrant Caribbean Pot, 100 Traditional And Fusion Recipes @ CaribbeanPot.com/CookBook/

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