Classified as offal oxtail is exactly just that– a tail from an ox. Nowadays oxtail comes from regular beef cattle and has a resplendent culinary history. Not an uber-popular piece of meat but it can be found at specialty butchers, ethnic meat counters and gourmet restaurants particularly in European nature. I was fortunate to have gotten mine from my family’s locally raised grass-fed highland cattle.
It might be safe to assume, if you invited friends over for dinner and proclaimed that the main dish was fresh oxtail– raised eyebrows and turned up noses could ensue. However, you must not shun this illustrious meat! Oxtail dates back to a time when the entire animal was used for consumption and there was no waste. A time when people knew where their food came from and how it was grown, nourished and raised. Oxtail did not rate as high as prime rib but was primarily used in the pots of poorer homes and communities, stretching a small amount of meat served with assorted vegetables and seasonings to comfort many.
I was drawn to oxtail not only because of it’s velvety texture and rich taste but because of it’s health benefits I am a runner and am currently experiencing unfortunate bone and joint issues. I am desperately searching for ways to help me keep doing the things I love, like running. There are a myriad of supplements and miracle drugs out on the market for joint health and osteoarthritis but with simple and cheap ingredients I can make my own. Oxtail is a particularly boney cut of meat and bone is an actual living tissue, classifying it as an organ. It is rich in minerals (glucosamine, chondroiten, magnesium, glycine, phosphorus) marrow and collagen. These nutrients help form bone cells, connective tissue and collagen all necessary for joint and bone health.
The oxtail is slowly cooked allowing the meat to become tender enough to pull away from the bone. The long and slow cooking process allows the nutrient dense minerals from the bones and connective tissues seep into the broth. Because of oxtails’ abundance of collagen the broth becomes rich and thick. The stew consists of simple ingredients and can be made with veggies you have on hand.
I chopped up the following:
Garlic, Onion, Carrot, Celery, Parsnips, Turnips and Russian fingerling potatoes
You start the stew by using a big pot and prepare the following:
Saute the onion and garlic until soft and caramelized.
Then add your heartier veggies first–potatoes and turnips before the carrots and celery
Add about 1/2 cup – 1 cup of red wine and allow to cook off before adding the following:
1 can of Organic Italian crushed tomatoes (they do taste better!)
2 pints of beef broth (store-bought or homemade)
1 can of butter beans or whatever white beans you have on hand
Chopped up pancetta fried until crispy for flavor
Sprig of savory, sprig of thyme and a bay leaf
To season add: crushed black pepper, salt, clove, grated orange peel and paprika
The oxtail is butchered into segments and looks like the above photo.
To prepare the oxtail coat a cast iron skillet or saute pan with oil then heat on medium.
Coat the oxtail with flour, shake off the excess and cook until golden brown on all sides.
Transfer the oxtail to the pot of vegetables and allow to simmer at least 3 hours until the meat is tender and pulls easily from the bone (I cook the stew on the stove-top for 1 1/2 hours then transfer it to a slow cooker to simmer on low overnight.)
Once cooked through use tongs to remove the oxtail bones and clean off any meat remaining on the bone then return it to the stew.
After all your efforts enjoy a bowl of hearty, flavorful bone nutrient filled stew!