Oxtail is probably my second favourite cut of meat (after Pork Belly). My mum makes a smashing oxtail, so I grew up with it – it is in my fibre!
Over the years I have tried cooking oxtail in many different ways, but have eventually settled with this version, which I have been cooking for about 10 years now. I love the influence of the Asian spices and instead of serving with the traditional starch and vege, I make a Thai-inspired salad to go with it – it does break the richness of the oxtail.
- Never use wine – I never use wine with oxtail. The meat is rich and flavourful enough without it.
- Use a muslin cloth for the spices – By putting the spices in the muslin cloth whilst cooking you can infuse the flavours, without having to pick out spices afterwards – similar to a tea bag.
- Add Prawns – WTF?? But yes, prawns go really well with oxtail – grill or fry them just before serving and add them to the plate as garnish – 4 or 5 per plate.
- Softness of Meat – Oxtail needs to be soft – but it is a myth that it should fall off the bone. If it falls off the bone you have over cooked it. For me, the oxtail must be soft enough to easily slide a butter knife into it, but it should have just enough hold to stay on the bone.
- Take it off the bone for serving – when it is just my family and me, I leave it on the bone. I love getting at it with my fingers…feeling the gelatinous stickiness, and sucking the bones until they are bone dry! I think that is where the saying comes from – my family eating oxtail 😉 But if you have guests you may consider trying to remove the meat from the bones in such a way what you almost peal it off the bone so that each segment of meat stays in one piece.
- Pressure Cooker – I don’t care if it sounds so-’70s, I use a pressure cooker. It cuts the cooking time in half, and if you know and understand your pressure cooker you can get it to just the right softness to still be firm enough to stick to the bone. I find that by cooking it on a stove top for hours and hours the meat becomes really stringy by the time it is soft.
If you have the time before making the dish, salt your oxtails and grill them on a really hot BBQ. You have to ensure that your coals are really hot to add a quick sear. You do not want it on the fire for more than 2 or 3 minutes on each side – but it must brown the meat, and even singe the little bits of meat sticking out. This process gives an added flavour to the meat – you will not regret it.