I decided to take a stab at a Jamaican style Oxtail Stew. I bought the oxtails fresh here in Chinatown. This is sort of a hybrid of oxtail stew recipes with some of my own personal twists.
What originally inspired me to cook this is the Jamaican food cart outside of my building. These two sweet ladies cook some of the best, slow cooked, flavorful dishes I have ever tasted including curry goat, fresh red snapper and fried chicken. But it's hard to top the rich flavor and tender meat of their oxtail stew. For $7 you get this served over rice and peas, with a side of collard greens. That's hard to beat, especially in NYC.
Here is how I ended up trying to recreate this dish.
Please post your thoughts or your own recipes for oxtails. Enjoy!
3 pounds oxtails, cut into segments by a butcher
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 Spanish onions, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Scotch bonnet pepper (you could use habanero or jalapeno as alternatives), whole
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 10.5-ounce can butter or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Pour yourself a nice glass of red wine or bourbon.
Season oxtails aggressively with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. I used my cast iron dutch oven. Add the brown sugar to pot and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it darkens and starts to smoke — this took about 5 minutes. When sugar is nearly black, add 2 tablespoons boiling water. (It will splatter.) Stir to mix.
*Warning: do not attempt to lick the wooden spoon with the sugar mixture, it burns pretty bad I found out.
Add the oxtails to the pot, working in batches, stirring each time to cover them with blackened sugar, then allowing them to cook, turning occasionally, until they are coated and well browned. Remove the oxtails and place in a bowl...keep them warm.
Add half of the onions, garlic and ginger to the pot, along with the pepper, the thyme, the allspice and a third of the scallions, and stir to combine. Allow to cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes.
Return the oxtails to the pot along with any accumulated juices and put water into the pot so that the oxtails are almost submerged. Bring to a simmer and then cook, covered, approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Add remaining onions, garlic and ginger to the pot, along with another third of the scallions. Add sugar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and continue to cook until the meat is yielding and loose on the bone, approximately one hour longer. Remove about one cup of liquid from pot and place in a small bowl. Add flour to this liquid and stir to combine, working out any lumps with the back of a spoon. Add this mixture to the pot along with ketchup, then stir and combine everything. Allow to cook a another15 minutes or so. Remove the hot pepper and thyme stems. Fold butter beans into the stew and allow these to heat through. Scatter remaining scallions over the top. Serve with white rice or rice and lentils*
This should serve around 4 people. You can serve with a nice dark leaf lettuce salad, collard greens, or kale. Make sure there is a good bottle of red wine on the table.
*Soon to follow: a recipe for cooking rice and lentils in coconut milk. For now, I cheated and you can use this link: