Oxtail a cut made for slow cooking!
Oxtail contains the perfect ingredients for a rich flavour-packed stew, bone marrow, fat and collagen-rich meat. This recipe takes this to the next level by adding smoke as well as sweetness from peppers and tomatoes.
Bone marrow contains mainly blood and fat cells. It has a spongy texture that softens and melts when heated to give a rich nutty buttery taste and texture and why most stocks include boiling bones and oxtail contains lots.
Fat is flavour! As well as the delicious taste and texture from crispy or creamy fat, it also acts as a vehicle transporting flavour molecules that occur in browning. Some oxtail pieces have more visible white fat than others. If you want you can trim off large chunks, but please don’t trim off all the fat or you will lose flavour. We prefer to let our stew stand after cooking and remove excess then, see methods.
Collagen is found in tendons, ligaments, and hard-working muscles, like the tail! With low and slow cooking collagen is broken down to gelatin that can hold up to 10 times its weight in moisture giving a rich and silky texture.
It’s worth the time and effort (and expense)
The long cooking time required meant oxtail used to be a cheap cut of meat, but its resurgence in popularity has come with a significant rise in price. Although it is no longer cheap as it once was, we still think its value for money given the intense flavour and richness it provides, as well as versatility in dishes. It is one of our favourite things to slow cook. We serve it as a rich, unctuous, comforting stew garnished with parsley, with rice, jacket potato or as a ragu for pasta.
Andrew & Laura
Smoky Oxtail Stew with Chickpeas and Fire Roasted Peppers
- Prep Time30 min
- Cook Time8 hr
- Total Time8 hr 30 min
- Serving Size10
For the Oxtail Stew
- 2 kg oxtail pieces on the bone
- 4 large peppers, whole
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 3 onions sliced
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp hot paprika
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika (or smoked)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1.5kg fresh plum tomatoes cut in half
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- Olive oil, drizzle
- Sprinkling salt and pepper
- 75cl red wine
- 2 tins of chickpeas, drained
Set up the grill for direct cooking on medium/high heat. Sear the oxtail pieces, turning every few minutes until brown on all sides. Place peppers around edge. As the fat begins to render, flair-ups can occur so keep them moving taking care not burn the oxtail (or yourself!). When brown all over remove and keep aside.
Place a heavy cast iron directly over coals until heated through. Add two tablespoons of rapeseed oil and fry the onions. Turn the peppers every few minutes. When the onions are soft, add garlic, spices, salt, pepper and herbs, mixing well.
When the peppers are blackened all over, soft and no longer holding their structure, remove and place in a covered bowl to steam for 15 minutes.
Return the oxtail to the pan, pour over the red wine to cover the oxtail, add more water if required and bring to a gentle boil.
Cut the tomatoes in half, laying cut side up in the baking tray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, light brown sugar and drizzle with olive oil. Bake the tomatoes indirect at 160-180C.
While the tomatoes are baking, keep the cast iron pot with oxtail over the direct side allowing is to simmer gently, stirring every 15 minutes.
After 30-40 minutes the tomatoes should be soft and browned on the cut surface. Add them to the oxtail and wine, mixing thoroughly. Bring to boil and cover pot with lid. Transfer to indirect side reducing the temperature to 140C.
When the peppers are cool enough to handle remove the burnt skins. Don’t worry about being too meticulous, a bit of char adds flavour. Remove the stalk and scrape away any seeds. Cut them into chunks and set aside adding any excess juice to the cooking pot.
After 6 hours remove one of the larger pieces of oxtail from the pot. The meat should come away freely away from the bone, with little resistance, if not, continue cooking for checking every hour. When ready, remove the oxtail pieces placing aside to cool and discard any herb stems.
When cool enough to handle, strip the oxtail meat and return to the pot, adding peppers with any juice and the drained chickpeas. Mix well and bring to boil.
This can be served immediately, but the flavour intensifies with time. We cover and remove from the heat, allowing to cool and skim off excess oil or solidified fat from the surface.
Reheat and enjoy as a rich, unctuous, comforting stew garnished with parsley, or serve on a jacket potato or as ragu for pasta.