Mighty oxtail

Garth Leith, an employee of Pancho's on Edward Street, Port of Spain, lays out a pan of stewed oxtail just before midday on September 4. - ROGER JACOB
Garth Leith, an employee of Pancho's on Edward Street, Port of Spain, lays out a pan of stewed oxtail just before midday on September 4. - ROGER JACOB

THE mighty oxtail or should I say the humble oxtail, (as it used to be an economical cut) is the culinary name for the tail of cattle. Formerly, it referred only to the tail of an ox or steer, a castrated male. But today it comes from the tail of a cow of either sex. An oxtail typically weighs two to four pounds and is skinned and cut into short lengths, usually about two inches. Each section will have a marrow filled bone at the centre, with the surrounding meat being gelatinous in texture. Oxtail requires a longer cooking time to ensure a tender texture. But it is so very delicious that it really is worth the time. it’s included in hearty and nourishing soups, and makes a delightful slow-cooked stew.

Oxtail soup

2 lbs oxtail, jointed into 2-inch pieces

1 tbs ground herb seasoning

1 tbs vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

⅓ cup chopped chive

2 tbs chopped celery

1 pimento pepper, chopped

2 sprigs thyme

1 hot pepper

½ lb pumpkin, peeled and cubed

2 lbs provisions, sweet potato, dasheen, cut into 2-inch pieces

salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste


Rub herb seasoning onto oxtail and marinate for about 30 minutes.

Add oil to a large soup pot, sear oxtail on both sides to brown, add garlic, onion, chive, celery, pimento pepper and thyme, cover with about eight cups water and boil until oxtail is tender, one hour.

Skin off any fat and froth from the surface. Add more water if you need to and bring the soup back to a boil. Add pumpkin, and hot pepper, cook for another 15 minutes until tender, add provisions stir, and cook for 15 minutes, add dumplings and finish cooking, another ten minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Serves 4 to 6

Use the cinnamon dumpling recipe below, omit the cinnamon if you prefer.

Stewed oxtail with cinnamon dumplings

Stewed oxtail from Pancho's on Edward Street in Port of Spain. - ROGER JACOB

2 lbs oxtail, sliced into ¾-inch pieces

1 tbs minced garlic

1 tbs minced chives

1 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tbs chopped celery

2 tbs vegetable oil

2 tbs brown sugar

1 large sprig French thyme

1 pimento pepper, seeded and chopped

¼ tsp allspice powder

1 large onion chopped

1 carrot, chopped

4 cloves

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Trim meat of fat, season with garlic, chives, vinegar and celery. Set aside for one hour.

Heat oil in a sauté pan, add sugar and caramelise to a dark brown colour, add oxtail slices and turn quickly, browning all pieces well, add the rest of the ingredients, turn well and season with salt and pepper.

Cook for a few minutes then turn heat to low and cover, let cook until tender, about 40 minutes, basing occasionally and adding water only if needed to prevent sticking.

Serves 4 to 6

Cinnamon dumplings

2 cups flour

2 tsp butter

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and rub butter into flour until mixture is grainy, slowly all water and knead to a stiff dough. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes.

Divide dumpling dough into 2 pieces, roll each piece into a long rope like shape about 12 inches in length, cut into 3-inch lengths, flatten slightly and drop into boiling water, cook until dumplings float to the top of the pot then drop into oxtail stew and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Creole stewed oxtail

2 lbs lean oxtail, jointed

1 tbs ground herb seasoning

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbs minced garlic

1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, grated

2 tbs red wine vinegar

1 tbs yoghurt

1 tbs brown rum

1 tbs brown sugar

2 tbs vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 pimento pepper, chopped

1 tsp tomato paste

½ tbs roucou

⅓ cup French thyme leaves

Few all spice berries

1 hot pepper, optional

1 tsp salt

Approx 6 cups water

Remove any excess fat from oxtail.

Combine herb seasoning, black pepper, garlic, ginger, vinegar, yoghurt and rum.

Rub onto oxtail, cover and and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven, add sugar and caramelise to a dark brown colour, sear oxtail on both sides to brown, add, onion, pimento pepper, tomato paste, raucous and thyme, add all spice berries, lower heat and cover, cook until oxtail begins to release some of its juices.

You can pressure cook it on high for 20 minutes at this point, add about 2 cups of water.

If continuing on the stovetop, add about 2 cups water and simmer for with about, one hour until tender.

Skin off any fat and from the surface. Adjust seasonings

Serves 4 to 6



"Mighty oxtail"

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