Now sadly out of fashion, oxtail is a very versatile, succulent and inexpensive cut of meat. I got mine at the Stan Hywett Farmers’ Market from Green Vista Farm. Their meat is wonderful. I have also on occasion seen oxtail at Mustard Seed Market. As with many cheaper cuts of meat, oxtail requires a little extra attention, time and care to prepare a delicious meal. But it is so worth it!
1 free-range oxtail (2-3 pounds), cut at the joints and trimmed of extra fat (discard the fat)
1-2 large onions, peeled and cut into sections lengthwise
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
1 carrot, chopped (optional)
1 parsnip, chopped (optional)
2 cups of mushrooms, sliced (optional) (any mushrooms you have on hand will do but wild mushrooms will work best)
1 qt. canned crushed tomatoes
1 qt. beef or vegetable stock
1 cup dry red wine (optional)
1 cup pitted black olives (optional)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sea salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
On a hot dry skillet, working in batches, brown the pieces of oxtail, taking care not to overcrowd the skillet. Transfer to a Dutch oven.
Pour vegetable oil into the skillet and saute onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms, parsnips and carrots (or any chosen combination of them) on medium heat until just barely golden. Sprinkle flour and stir to distribute. Saute for another minute and add beef broth, a cup at a time. Stir well. Keep adding broth and stirring until your veggies are coated in very thick gravy. Take care not to burn the veggies and the gravy. Add to the meat in the Dutch oven. Add remaining ingredients: tomatoes, parsley, salt, black pepper, olives, wine and thyme. Tightly cover the Dutch oven.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit and braise oxtail for 4-5 hours, checking regularly. The ragout is ready when the meat is fork tender and falls off the bones.
NOTE: Beef short ribs can be substituted for oxtail and prepared in much the same way.