I grew up eating oxtail which is a fatty, silky meat cooked on the bone, and which produces a luscious, slightly gelatinous sauce or broth. It’s fantastic in soups and curries. This is my family’s recipe for a simple but very warming oxtail stew. If you’re making it for the first time, perhaps eat it over rice or with bread, however you’d like, really, but know that at some point, you really should pick up the bones and eat with your fingers. Some of the softest meat clings to the crevices and I find a fork and knife leaves too much behind.
2 lb oxtail, trimmed of excess fat, cut into roughly 1-inch pieces
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 sprig curry leaves or 2 bay leaves
1 small red onion, sliced
1 2-inch piece of lemongrass, (the bottom) sliced lengthwise
1 cardamom pod
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tbs flour
4 c water
Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot, like a dutch oven, over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the meat, season with a little salt and brown the pieces on all sides. Transfer meat to a plate. Add the curry leaves, onion, lemongrass, clove and cardamom to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onion is softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 15 seconds, then add the flour and do the same until it turns slightly brown. Return the meat to the pot, add 1 teaspoon of salt, mix well to combine, then pour the water over top. Bring to a boil, stir well, then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender and can easily be pulled off the bone with a fork which can take an hour to an hour and a half depending. During that time, stir periodically and skim any scum from the top with a ladle and discard. Once the meat is fully cooked, if the liquid is thinner than you’d like, remove the meat and boil the liquid, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes to reduce it. Pour the reduced sauce over meat or serve on the side. Enjoy this with rice or bread, with vegetables, dhal, curries or a hearty salad perhaps.
Makes 4 servings.