I know what you are thinking, “Oxtail…the tail of the ox?” Yes, that’s correct- oxalis come from the steer’s tail.
Now that I have your attention, Oxtail Stew is one of those childhood memories for me that take me back to the kitchen of my Grandmother Hart. I recall my grandmother making it many times in the winter, as it’s a very hardy meal that can feed a crew. My mother also made this delicious stew with oxtails from the beef we would butcher every year. On the farm you learn to use every part of the animals butchered- nothing goes to waste.
Oxtails are similar to the shank of an animal- full of tasty meat, but must be cooked slowly to ensure tenderness. Today a lot of folks don’t think they have the time to spend in the kitchen cooking a meal that takes all day, but I say the slower, the better. And, the vertebrae in the oxtail is packed full of iron-rich marrow- a win/win for your health.
Winter Oxtail Stew
Adapted from Simply Recipes, 2009
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pat dry oxtails with paper towels. Sprinkle oxtails all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium to medium high heat in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Working in batches, and not crowding the pan, sear the oxtails in hot pan on all sides until golden brown. Use tongs to remove oxtails to a plate, setting aside.
Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent. Add the oxtails back to the pan. Add the whole garlic cloves, the stock and wine. Add bay leaf, thyme, and half a teaspoon of salt. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 hours, until meat is fork tender. (Meat will be falling apart)
One hour before the meat is done, heat oven on 350°F. Toss carrots and parsnips in olive oil in a roasting pan. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for 1 hour, or until lightly browned and cooked through.
When meat is tender, remove oxtails from the cooking liquid. Skim the fat off the top with a spoon. Shred the meat on the oxtails away from the bone.
Pour the cooking liquid through a mesh strainer into a bowl, using a rubber spatula to press against the vegetable solids caught in the strainer. Discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pan and simmer until reduced by half. Then add back in the oxtail meat, and add the roasted vegetables to the pan. Heat on low heat for half an hour for the flavors to meld. Add some chopped parsley before serving.