Posted on February 29th, 2016
Inspiration arose out of Filipino Cooking class!
Every once in awhile, the inspiration strikes to tackle a cuisine I’m not familiar with. This has happened over the years with varied results. Chicken tikka masala, croissants, and most recently, Jamaican oxtail soup. Having only eaten oxtail one other time, inspiration arose out of Filipino cooking class with Ellie a couple weeks back. That class opened up a world of food I had never experienced and I was eager to keep pushing my culinary boundaries forward.
Oxtail is tough. Made up of mostly collagen and bone, oxtail meat takes a long time to cook before it gets tender. The friend who had made this dish the other time I tried it, cooked it in a crock pot for hours. While the temperature continues to fluctuate from snow flurries to heat waves, consider firing up this oxtail stew for the coldest of days.
I found a recipe from the New York Times that I used as a guide. Of course, I ended up putting a spin on the recipe. In addition to the onions, ginger, and garlic, I added 4 carrots chopped to bulk out this meat centric stew. Parsnips, turnips, or potatoes, would make a nice addition as well. And if you’re not feeling the oxtail, consider using beef shank or another tough stewing meat. I was able to purchase the last package of oxtail at Market Basket but was still 1.5 lbs. short. Beef shank was an excellent substitute.
Don’t be fooled by the use of only one scotch bonnet pepper. This pepper packs a punch and is plenty spicy. If you’re not interested in melting your taste buds, consider substituting a jalapeño instead. Serve over rice. —Nick Schonberger
Jamaican Oxtail Stew
- 3 pounds oxtails, cut into segments by a butcher
- Kosher salt
- 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, whole
- 4 Carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 12 allspice berries
- 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 cup butter beans, or a 10 1/2-ounce can butter beans, rinsed and drained
1.Season oxtails aggressively with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot over high heat. Add brown sugar to pot and melt, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it darkens and starts to smoke — about 3 minutes. When sugar is nearly black, add 2 tablespoons boiling water. (It will splatter.) Stir to mix.
2.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 well browned, about 8 minutes. Remove oxtails to a bowl and keep warm.
3.Add half of the onions, half of the garlic and half of the 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
4.Return the oxtails to the pot along with any accumulated juices and put water into the pot so that the oxtails are submerged. Bring to a simmer and then cook, covered, approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally
5.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 approximately 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 slurry to the pot along with ketchup, then stir to combine and allow to cook a further 15 minutes or so. Remove Scotch bonnet 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 peas.