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Oxtail stew with allspice, scotch bonnet and Piccolo tomatoes

Jerk-style oxtail stew
  • Main
  • easy
  • 4
  • 3 hours 30 minutes, plus overnight marinating time

PT3H30M

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After the scorcher of the summer we’ve just had, as autumn begins to whip its way in, no doubt many of you are looking forward to cooler climes. Personally, I am a little bit divided. Despite protestations around me, I am not quite ready to pack away the string vest, shorts and flip flops. Not just yet. It is a stylish look after all. But saying that, I am rather glad that the option of slow-cooking will be firmly back on the table.

This is partly because going ‘low and slow’ really is one of the easiest ways to cook. All it takes is an initial prep, a touch of browning here and there, some stock, some seasoning - and then off you go. It is the perfect set up for lazy Sundays. When all you fancy, is a crunch through some leaves and a pint on the way home.

The best part is working out what you want to braise. When it comes to meat, the world is your oyster, as there are so many different cuts out there. Shoulders, shanks, cheeks, you name it. They all deliver on texture and flavour and are very hard to mess up in a stew or casserole.

For my money though, oxtail is probably the best cut. The morsels of beef may be relatively small, but the meat from oxtail carries an extra dimension of richness and flavour. It also comes on the bone, with gelatinous cartilage that breaks down to work a magic on its own. Very rarely do you have to play around with the resulting gravy that comes from oxtail.

You might not be ready for the woolly hat and mittens just yet though. You may still want to cavort around with some heat and some punch. If this is the case, the best way forward is this spicy oxtail stew, infused with flavours of jerk seasoning for a decidedly warming finish.

Scotch Bonnet, that fruity yet spicy chilli, is the cornerstone of any jerk seasoning, alongside allspice, of course. But during the marinating process, it is also good to add a touch of acidity

Which is where the tomatoes come in. Whack a good handful in at the start, sliced, and they will really to help to start breaking the meat fibres down, for that essential tenderness.

Another handful of tomatoes, to go into the pot towards the end of cooking, is just as important. This time kept whole. Because if you do go a bit heavy on the Scotch Bonnet, those little pops of sweetness in your mouth will serve as delicious relief.

A bit like changing into some suitable attire, ahead of a hot day in the office for instance. I mean, we could still have an Indian Summer. You never know.

Ingredients

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Method

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1
First, place your oxtail into a large bowl, along with the Scotch Bonnet, sliced spring onions, garlic, grated ginger, dried thyme, allspice, cinnamon and brown sugar
2
Take half of the tomatoes, slice them in half and add to the bowl and mix everything together. Save the remaining tomatoes and keep them whole for later
3
Pour over the red wine, cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate overnight
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4
The next day, take the bowl back out and remove the oxtail from the marinade
5
Dust the oxtail with flour and generous season with the sea salt and pepper. Place a casserole on the hob over a medium to high heat and add the groundnut oil
6
Briskly brown the oxtail pieces all over, in batches if you do not have enough space. Once the meat is browned, place all the pieces back in and cover with the marinade, along with the beef stock, and bring to the boil
7
Once the stew is bubbling, bring down to a gentle simmer. Cover and leave to cook on the hob for up to 3 hours, or until the meat starts to fall off the bone. If it starts to dry out, just top with some water
8
Whilst the oxtail is cooking, start on your rice by rinsing and refreshing in cold water, until the water runs through clear. Leave to drain
9
Place a saucepan on the hob over a medium heat and add the sliced spring onion and sauté until it is sweet and soft
10
Add the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs, cooking for a couple of minutes longer, and then add the rice and allspice
11
Stir for another minute, to ensure everything is coated and then add the coconut milk and black beans. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat right down and cover. Leave to gently cook for 30 minutes. No peeking. Now is the time to check on the oxtail and to add the remaining tomatoes
12
When the rice is done, check for seasoning and fish out the thyme sprigs. Add a few knobs of butter before stirring through
13
To serve, spoon a good amount of rice on your plate first, followed by two (or three) pieces of oxtail. Finish by spooning over the remaining stock, along with the tomatoes, which by this point should be fit to burst
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