Although oxtails typically come from both male and female cows, the name has stuck and it harks back to a time when we raised oxen for work rather than for beef.
Today oxtail, much like a lot of the cheaper cuts, has increased in popularity over the last few years and it’s no longer seen as a one-hit-oxtail-soup-wonder. Having said that, there’s still work to be done to raise oxtail’s profile as it’s not as popular as the other cheap cuts such as pork belly or pigs’ cheeks.
More of an off-cut rather than offal, the oxtail is fatty, boney and full of marrow. So a long braise for around 3-4 hours is required but we think the end results are well worth the wait. The bones pack a flavoursome punch and the marrow adds a delicious gelatinous quality to your stew or casserole. As for the meat, that simply falls off the bones And, because we slice the oxtail up into sections to make it easier to handle at home, you’ll find that one fits into favourite casserole dish quite easily.
We like to cook oxtail as we would any beef stew. We gently fry off some carrots, celery and onion. Then we add a little garlic and the oxtail along with red wine, beef stock and a few fresh herbs before cooking in an oven for about 3-4 hours at 160C. With all that cooking liquor, we tend to serve this with mash. But you could also try adding beans to the casserole itself and fat butter beans would be good for soaking up the juices.
Alternatively you could take inspiration from the Italian Coda alla Vaccinara which sees oxtail cooked in a tomato and celery based sauce with pancetta, raisins, pine nuts and warming spices such as cloves and cinnamon. It’s typically served the next day, once the fat has risen to the top and been removed. Then any leftovers are used as a rich sauce for fettuccine or penne.
As we buy the whole cow, we regularly stock the full range of cuts, including oxtail. Just head to our butcher’s counter next time you pop into our Abbeydale Road store. And remember, if you can’t see what you want in the counter, you can ask a member of our team whether we have it stored underneath.