Sometimes I pick favorites.
One of my favorite place to purchase meat in town is Louie’s Custom Meats in Clear Lake, Iowa. I’ve brought home ground beef, steaks, whole chickens, chicken thighs, pork butts, ham ball/loaf mix and even frozen fish fillets. Louie’s also sells stunning smoked, bone-in pork chops. I bought one on a whim and sautéed it for a quick dinner. It was so good it changed my life. Everything I make with meat from Louie’s just tastes better.
I appreciate how Louie’s updates its Facebook page regularly with weekly specials. Every once in a while, they’ll receive a whole fresh fish and post photos with prices, too. Last week, Louie’s posted an update about oxtail so I stopped by and bought a couple of pounds. As you can see, oxtail really is a tail; a cow tail to be exact. I think it used to be a cheap, throwaway cut of meat but has since become trendy recently, hence its price.
Jake and I had never eaten oxtail before, so we asked Louie and some of our friends for advice. They offered many suggestions including trimming off some of the excess fat, searing the meat, and being careful to remove the fat from the sauce after cooking. Some friends said they simmer oxtail in marinara sauce while others flavor it with bay leaves and wine.
I combined some of their suggestions with Sunny Anderson’s recipe for Oxtail Stew in the slow cooker and added a habanero pepper for heat. Those who are experienced at preparing oxtail might shake their head at my method, as I had no idea what I was doing, but in the end we enjoyed a flavorful stew.
For those put off by the thought of eating a tail, the pieces of meat become tender after hours of braising and taste like pot roast. Jake and I had no idea how to eat the oxtail and soon tossed our cutlery aside to dig in with our fingers and gnaw the meat and melting cartilage off the bone. If there’s a pretty way to eat oxtail, we’re stumped.
The actual stew is rich in flavor and texture. The lima beans melt and the collagen from the beef bones adds body. We enjoyed the stew with brown rice and crusty bread.
I Tried To Make Oxtail Stew
Adapted from Sunny Anderson’s recipe for Oxtail Stew. In hindsight, the sauce enhancer (Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet was unnecessary. Gravy Master is noted in Sunny’s recipe so I bought Kitchen Bouquet hoping it was a similar product).
2 pounds of oxtail
Flour, a light dusting for the ox tails
6 ounces baby lima beans
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 habanero pepper, seeds removed and slit
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot sauce
Optional: 1-2 tablespoons Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet
3 scallions, sliced
- Sort through lima beans for stones and rinse. Place in a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and set aside.
- Pre-heat pan to medium-high. Lightly dust oxtail pieces with flour. Sear in vegetable oil on all sides until golden brown. Set aside.
- Remove the excess fat, leaving enough to cook the onion.
- Cook the onion until softened. Add the garlic, paprika, thyme and bay leaf. Saute briefly until fragrant.
- Drain the lima beans and place in the slow cooker.Add the ox tails, slit and deseeded habanero and onion-spice mixture.
- Fill slow cooker with about half water, half stock until it almost (but not quite) covers the oxtail.
- Cook on high. Check on the oxtails after a couple of hours. Skim off the foam and fat.
- My ox tails took about eight hours to become tender. I occasionally skimmed the fat and added stock when the beans looked dry. About two hours before I wanted to serve the oxtails, I added the tomato paste and Kitchen Bouquet.
- Before serving, I tasted for seasoning and added more salt and soy sauce as needed. I also tossed in the scallions.
Have you ever eaten oxtail? If you’ve cooked it, what’s your favorite method of preparation? Feel free to let me know if I missed a step or made the process too difficult.