We’ve had a package of oxtails in our freezer since my dad gave them to us at Christmas. I wasn’t ignoring them; I knew they were there. I just wasn’t sure what to do with them. I did know that they were perfect for braising, but beyond that, I was unsure what to do with them once braised.
After a little research, I found that many recipes used them for dishes such as soups, stews, and ragouts. But I didn’t want to do that, as the weather has been really nice and summery lately. I wanted to so something relatively light, not heavy like a stew.
My thoughts then shifted to something Scott and I have a lot here at home: black bean tacos. I thought I could substitute the oxtail for the black beans and do the same basic taco preparation.
I created a marinade for the oxtail loosely based on a recipe from Kitchen Runway, which is a fabulous site with great recipes and lovely photos. I was just happy to see that someone was doing something a little different with oxtail AND shared my love of tacos!
After the initial browning stage.
After a 2 1/2-hour simmer in a Dutch oven. See how the meat is pulling away from the bones? That’s what you want.
This dish is, for the most part, really easy. Because I knew we weren’t going to eat the tacos the night I braised the oxtail, I pulled the meat off of the bone and stored it in a container covered with some of the sauce. I then reheated it in a pan over medium heat the next night and they were perfect. In fact, I wondered if maybe the meat benefited from an overnight rest?
If you can’t find oxtail for this dish, you could use lamb or beef shanks, or even beef short ribs would do the trick. But I urge you to try to find oxtail – perhaps your local ethnic market will have some in stock?
The slaw is just a mix of red cabbage, feta cheese, cilantro, and pickled ramps. You could make a slaw out of anything, though, as long as it is somewhat acidic in order to cut the fattiness of the oxtail.
Braised Oxtail Tacos with Red Cabbage, Cilantro and Feta Slaw
Adapted from Kitchen Runway
2/12 – 3 pounds oxtail
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 cloves of garlic, grated
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
3 celery stalks (plus leaves), cut into 2-inch pieces
one small red onion, quartered
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 quart low-sodium beef broth
1/2 small red cabbage, sliced thinly
1/4 -1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
2 – 3 pickled ramps, chopped (optional – I had them because I made them myself)
juice of one lime
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
hot sauce of your choice (optional)
lime wedges (optional)
Place oxtail in a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, olive oil, kosher salt, grated garlic and ginger, and a black pepper. Pour marinade over oxtail and rub in to coat. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and allow the oxtail to marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Coat the bottom of a large Dutch oven with olive oil and heat on medium heat until hot. Brown the oxtail on all sides. Remove and set aside.
To the Dutch oven, add carrots, celery, onion, and the remaining marinade. Saute for 10 – 15 minutes, or until onions begin to turn translucent.
Add oxtail back to pot, along with the beef stock and sugar. Bring to a boil, place lid over the pan, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook oxtails until until tender, about 2 1/2 – 3 hours.
Remove oxtail from braising liquid and allow to cool slightly. At this point, you’re going to want to remove the meat from the bone. Take your time and be sure to separate the fat and cartilage from the meat, as you don’t want to chomp down on any gristly bits while enjoying your yummy tacos!
You can proceed with the recipe as follows or you can store the meat in a little of the juices for the next day.
To assemble the slaw, place all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to incorporate. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so (while you’re pulling the meat off the bones, perhaps?) and then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Warm corn tortillas in microwave, toaster oven, or low oven for a few minutes, place oxtail on top, then add slaw. Squeeze lime juice over or add hot sauce if desired. Can be served with ginger rice or cilantro/lime rice if desired.