Wine Braised Oxtails – Italian Inspired
Since the first time I had them ages ago, I fell in LOVE with oxtails! If they are on a menu, no matter how prepared, I will order them. I have had some fantastic experiences, and some not so stellar – even though they have almost always been a high ticketed item. So, while shopping at an Asian market one day many years ago (the cost per pound versus generic markets was much less until a recent spike…?…similar to bones for marrow I suppose), I decided to try to make them at home and the recipe below is what I came up with after a few tries. It is a hearty dish, simple to prepare and there are no limits on the amount of creative you can employ.
- ~3 lbs oxtails; center cut is preferred
- 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin “moons”
- ~1.5 cups red wine (Cabernet or Merlot)
- 2 cans tomato paste
- 1 can reduced sodium beef broth
- 1 can salt free petite diced tomatoes, including liquid
- 3 garlic gloves, minced
- 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
- 3 large bay leaves
- 2 large handfuls spinach
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Trim oxtails of as much fat as possible and remove any sinew. Place tails in medium-sized, deep roasting pan.
Mix wine, tomato paste, beef broth, diced tomatoes, minced garlic, Worcestershire, black pepper, Italian seasoning in a bowl until well blended. Add sliced onions and bay leaves. Pour mixture over tails being certain to gently push onions and bay leaves in-between pieces of meat. Do not completely cover meat. At least 1/2″ of tails should be exposed. If more liquid is needed you can add additional beef broth or water.
Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 3 hours. Remove foil and bake an additional 30 minutes uncovered to allow sauce to thicken. When desired thickness is achieved, remove from oven and skim excess fat off the top (coffee filters work well or can use paper towels). Move tails to one side of pan (they will have cooked down substantially) and add spinach. Stir until just wilted. Serve with bread, over rice, over pasta, over mashed potatoes, or anything of you desire! Get as imaginative as you want! Instead of following this Italian-inspired recipe, change up the flavors. Go Mediterranean, Asian, Mexican, whatever. Add small chunks of potato, carrots, and celery to make it more like a traditional stew. Remember, it’s your kitchen…and if someone doesn’t like it, they don’t have to eat it! Buon appetito!
Tip: While they are fantastic piping hot out of the oven, to make removing top grease easier and increasing the ability to remove more of it effectively, refrigerate the tails in the pan overnight. The next day simply lift off the congealed layer of fat and reheat. I’m actually on the fence if they’re better day two or not. 🙂
Serves 3-4 WITH choice of sides.