Friday, February 19, 2016

Oxtail Ragu – Worth the Wait

Other than a completely unnecessary braising step right in the middle of the video, this oxtail ragu came out amazingly well. My thought was to roast the oxtails in the sauce, in a slow oven to see if I could achieve the tender-sticky meat I know and love, while slowly reducing the sauce at the same time. I couldn’t. 

Well, actually, it would have eventually gotten tender, but I wasn’t prepared to find out how long that was going to be. Like I said several times during the video, I want you to roast your oxtail and onion until nicely browned, but then transfer everything into a pot, add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer until the meat comes off the bones with minimal effort.

The only way to screw up this incredibly succulent cut of beef is to not cook it long enough, which is why I better not read any 3-star recipe reviews that say, “Good flavor, but wasn’t as tender as I wanted.” Just remember to not braise, and keep simmering until it yields completely to your fork. I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 4 portions:
(Pro tip: since this does take so many hours to simmer, it's almost always best to make this the day before you serve it)
3-4 pounds oxtail, cut into 2-inch sections, rubbed with olive oil, and seasoned generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
-- Roast at 425 F. for 45-60 minutes until browned
-- Transfer into a sauce pot, and add the following
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
4 cups tomato sauce or puree, or more if desired
2 cups chicken broth, or enough to cover the oxtails
* You can add as much sauce and/or stock as you want, as long as you have at least enough to cover
1 sprig rosemary
2 springs thyme
2 springs oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Simmer on low, many hours, until tender
- Should be enough sauce and meat for 1 pound of pasta

28 comments:

corsair said...

If you use a slow cooker to cook in the end, around how many hours would it take on low? On high? Or should you cook it in a pot and avoid the slow cooker to start with?

Scion said...

The Ox was just too big and mean to mess with - can I substitute something else?

Andrew Fung said...

Any theories on why the oven method did not work? Just kind of curious if there is some science-y stuff about heat transfer through braising liquids or something. In any event, these look great. I had difficulty browning oxtail in the pan last time I made it, so I am really stoked to start it in the oven.

Dave said...

I threw this together quickly this evening. Good flavour, but wasn't as tender as I wanted.

James said...

Two days ago; I made your recipe from 6 years ago "Brodo di Manzo", and I learned about cooking meat for 4 or 5 hours on the stovetop, until tender. My family loved it and now I have another tasty dish to to tell them "I slaved in the kitchen all day for you"! Thanks from a retired Grand-Dad!!

beemo said...

Oxtail! Last time I had an oxtail dish was in Thailand, it was a soup, very expensive by Thai standards, and oh so fabulous. I hope to try this soon.

Chef John you really must do a culinary tour of southeast asia some day -- vietnam, thailand, and myanmar. Have you heard of Burma's fermented-green-tea salad, laphet thoke? It's really special, and is possibly becoming known as the national dish of the Burmese people.

Valerie S said...

You are the Mr Magoo of your ragu. =)

jf brochu said...

Thanks again for another great inspiration Chef John

Looks like we have the same tee shirt (mine was for rabbit) the only way too braise in an oven is in a cast-iron pot.

May I suggest the addition of a light rub of Vietnamese spice Bo Kho before browning, and rice wine for a heavenly experience.

I do Enjoy your blog for over six years now

Kennapop3 said...

I split half a side of beef with another of my friends. I take the tongue he takes the tail. On the next side I will purpose a change and pray his wife knows nothing about Chef John.

beemo said...

Dear CJ, you mentioned somewhere that you are "not a pressure cooker guy." I've never tried one myself but they pop up in so many Indian cooking videos that I'm very curious. Could you make a few quick comments in a video soon, if appropriate?

Sevie Breaux said...

Amazing recipe! I used 2 1/2 pounds of the oxtail, along with beef shank, taken off the bone. I added some veal stock to give it some richness! A very nice recipe Chef John!

Matt Bundy said...

I missed this when it was first posted, but I had decided I wanted to make a "Sunday sauce" for dinner this weekend. Remembering your "neck sauce" post from a while back, I used that as inspiration. My grocer didn't have any beef bones, so I used a boneless short ribs from my freezer. The technique was essentially what you suggest here -- roast for about an hour, then transfer to the stove top, add tomato sauce, and simmer until the beef is super-tender (about 3 hours for me). I pulled the beef with a set of forks before serving over creamy polenta. Turned out great!

Alison Callaghan said...

My dad is Irish and, growing up, he made a great oxtail stew for us on chilly weekends. My mom is Italian, and, to this day, we have her "Sunday gravy" when we're all together. This, Chef John, seems like a perfect recipe, and I feel a bit dumb not having thought of it myself. Thank you.

Chris K. said...

You just didn't want to wash another pot, am I right?

arwiv said...

Nothing better than slow braised ox-tails in a good sauce. My only suggestion is if you are going to go with a jarred sauce go for a high quality one like Rao's. This meat is too good to mess up with a cheap jarred sauce.

Ju Teixeira said...

We always make this dish here in Brasil but we do use pressure cook.. it takes around 1 hour to cook as in the video :) we love rabada!! and we usually serves with watercress and potatos and sometimes with pirao (the oxtail stock thickened with manioc flour)

Ju Teixeira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jared Godwin said...

Can I just puree whole plum tomatoes?

Matt Bundy said...

Jared - I used canned tomatoes which I pureed in a blender and used as my "sauce". I was aiming for a basic Marcella Hazan-style sauce, and added a bit of butter, salt, pepper, and dry herbs (because that's what I had). Turned out great.

arwiv said...

If youre talking canned tomatoes Id use whole San Marzanos and hand grind them if you dont have a food mill. I guess if you have real good fresh tomatoes then that would be the way to go. Ive actually never made fresh sauce...I always use the canned San Marzanos.

Jaktar99 said...

Lets hear it for the pressure cooker. A great way to cook daubes, stews and ragus etc. Super quick and succulent results.

beemo said...

Yes Jaktar, I absolutely must try a pressure cooker, I'm shopping around for one. I think for my first try I'll just go with an old fashioned stovetop model that whistles. I'm on a big Indian cooking kick you see.

As for oxtails, in some countries they are sold with the skin still on, and when made into oxtail soup the skin is supposedly soft and delicious. When I had the Muslim-style oxtail soup in Thailand a few years ago I suppose it had the skin on, but I didn't notice, not being very up to date with oxtail... it was sure excellent though. Too bad the government health pussies all over North America won't let anyone sell oxtails with the skin on.

Kristian Moore said...

I made this dish on Sunday. The house smelled wonderful and the taste was delicious. After browning these in the oven, per the recipe, I simmered mine on the stove top for about 4.5 hours. The meat was incredibly tender.

Charley Burford said...

Hello,

You have a wonderful style of instruction...well done. Unfortunately, I'm more into vegetarian/health food. Hopefully, you will steer your efforts in that direction some day...in the meanwhile, I'll continue to scour your vast collection for something that seems acceptable to me. I looked, but couldn't find a biscotti recipe of yours. It's hard to believe you haven't done biscotti yet...I'd sure be interested in that...an occasional biscotti is about as much sin as I can handle these days.

beemo said...

This will be obvious to experienced cooks, but during the long simmering phase of Oxtail Ragu, covered or uncovered? Chef John doesn't say.

beemo said...

Just reporting another success, this oxtail ragu turned out wonderfully.

Joe T said...

I made this, came out great. Took 11 hours for the meat to be falling off the bone tender. But once it is, it's extremely good. And it flavors the sauce quite a bit. Has a partial stew like flavor.

Dr. Jeffrey McCracken said...

Hey Guys! Chef John much luv I'm a huge fan!

I have done this recipe twice with a pressure cooker and once broiled and braised.

The pressure cooker delivers almost equivalent tenderness after about 40 minutes for a full pot. I followed the first step to brown them then put all of the ingredients in the pressure cooker. Turn it off at 40 and finish the sauce as per Chef John. You won't be disappointed and a total cooking time of about 2 hours!!! Bon appetite and thanks again CJ!!!!!!!