Oxtail Braised in Sherry
Serves 6 – 8
Oxtail is sold cut into 1” thick slices; buy the meatiest pieces you can find. You will inevitably have a few slices from the tail’s end that have no meat on them. Be sure and add these pieces to the stew; their cartilage adds richness to the broth. Oxtail is delicious braised in any kind of dry wine; I use sherry because I enjoy its subtle flavor. I like the soupy sauce this recipe makes, in part because it leaves me more sauce for playing with leftovers. However, if you want thicker sauce, remove the lid when the meat is done and cook the stew at a medium boil until the sauce is the thickness you prefer.
Braised Oxtail is a good recipe to make ahead. Refrigerating the cooked oxtail hardens any excess fat and makes it easier to remove. As with most braised meats, Oxtail Braised in Sherry freezes well. I make the full recipe, even though I’m cooking for 2, and freeze the leftovers in serving size containers. Other ways of using the leftovers are in Oxtail Ravioli (see recipe here) or for soup (cut up the meat, add it, diced leftover potatoes, and beef stock to the oxtail broth and vegetables, and simmer for 15 minutes).
6 pounds oxtail slices
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound diced thick-cut pancetta, 1/4” dice
4 cups diced onions, 1/2” dice
1 cup diced carrots, 1/2” dice
1 cup diced celery, 1/2” dice
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1 750ml. bottle dry Sherry
2 cups beef stock
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, juices included
3 bay leaves
Fresh parsley, minced, for garnish
Wash and dry the oxtails. Cut off as much fat as you can. Season the oxtails with salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven and, cooking the oxtails in batches, thoroughly brown them on all sides. Remove the browned oxtails from the pot and set them aside.
Add the pancetta to the same pot and cook until it is nicely browned. Add the onions, carrots, and celery, seasoned lightly with freshly ground black pepper, and cook until the onions are translucent, being sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you cook the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir the Sherry, beef stock, tomatoes, and bay leaves into the vegetables. Return the browned oxtails to the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. (The recipe may be made ahead to this point.)
Remove as much fat as possible from the sauce (a fat separator works well for this task or, if you have time, separate the meat and sauce and refrigerate to harden the fat, which makes it easier to remove from the liquid). If the oxtails have been refrigerated, cook over low heat until the sauce is liquid and the oxtails warmed through. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
Sprinkle with minced fresh parsley and serve with boiled or roasted potatoes.