Jamaican Oxtail Recipe
This Jamaican Oxtail Recipe is what you need to get perfectly juicy and tender oxtails that delights the soul. Come discover all the delicious details of this tantalizing and captivating dish!
Sunday Dinner Favourite
Stewed oxtails is a big part of Jamaican culture. For many Jamaicans, oxtail is the ultimate comfort food and is a Sunday dinner favourite. Growing up, it’s what my mother would prepare as a treat. That means we never got it often, but when we did, it was delightful and satisfying. On those special occasions, we would look forward to our plate of oxtail with rice and peas, piece ah fry chicken and wid likkle oxtail gravy on the side. Now that I’m a mom, I find joy in carrying on this Sunday dinner tradition. Even though cooking oxtail requires a bit of work, believe me when I say that all the love you get in return makes it all worth it.
How many hours does it take to cook Oxtail?
The time it takes to cook oxtail depends on the method used. There are two main ways to cook oxtail. One way to cook oxtail is to slow-cook it on the stove top for approximately 3 – 3.5 hours or until the meat is tender. The other way is to use a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking process. Some people prefer to pressure cook oxtails because it makes the oxtail tender in a shorter time. Using a pressure cooker to cook your oxtail reduces the cooking time to about 1 hour and makes meal time less demanding.
How do you make Oxtail tender on the Stovetop
Jamaican Oxtail is one of my favourite recipes because it is flavourful and filling. I often slow cook my oxtails on the stovetop not only because my mother did it that way, but I find the stovetop method gives my oxtails a deeper flavour. However, it takes over 3 hours to get oxtails tender on the stovetop. If you’re pressed for time, not enthused about hanging over a hot pot for hours, eager to ‘dig-in’ to your meal and also have a pressure cooker at your convenience, then I’ve added some special tips below to help you with that.
Quick & Easy Pressure Cooker Method
To make sure you get the best results when using a pressure cooker, here are my TOP recommendations –
- Always start by searing the seasoned oxtails on the stovetop before moving on to the pressure cooker.
- Add just enough water to cover the meat before you pressure cook it.
- Cook the oxtails for just enough time to get perfectly tender meat. My oxtail is usually perfectly tenderized in 25 – 30 minutes. However, you may need to adjust the time to determine what works for you.
Oh-So-Good Right Down to the Bone!
If the oxtail bone ain’t succulent, then you know that oxtail just ain’t cutting it! Here’s how I cook my Jamaican oxtail recipe so that it’s ‘Oh-So-Good’ right down to the bone. My technique is self-dubbed the ‘Double Layer of Flavour’. This simply means that I add a delicious blend of herbs, spices and seasoning at the start, and then again at the end of the cooking process. As a result, the seasoning is richly infused into the meat as it cooks.
How to Make the BEST Oxtail Gravy!
It’s actually quite simple to make the best oxtail gravy. The key is to balance the flavours and to find the right consistency. My secret formula is to add lots of fresh seasoning along with some tomato ketchup, broad beans (or butter beans), carrots or spinners (skinny Jamaican-style dumplings), after the oxtail has cooked.
Even though the beans, carrots and spinners are optional, they help to thicken your gravy. They also give your oxtail great flavour. If you choose to omit those ingredients there are two other ingredients that can help you to thicken the oxtail gravy.
How to Thicken Oxtail Gravy
There are two simple ways to thicken your oxtail gravy. You can use either cornstarch or flour mixed with a little water, and then add it to your stew. Here’s how it’s done: First, dilute 1 – 2 teaspoons of cornstarch or flour in 3 – 4 tablespoons of cold water then add it to the pot and stir in well. Next, cook the oxtail on high heat with the pot partially uncovered, until the desired gravy consistency is achieved.
Why is Oxtail so Expensive?
If you’ve ever gone to the grocery store or a restaurant and asked yourself “Why is oxtail so expensive?”, then don’t worry, you’re not alone. This question has stumped many people. It’s because when you think about it, oxtails are quite boney and should cost less. However there’s an interesting ‘Rags to Riches’ story behind how oxtail became an expensive, world famous dish. In the past, butchers would either discard the tails (of cows or bulls), or sell them at a low cost to people unable to afford the ‘preferred’ cuts of beef. At that time, oxtails were the least desired cut of beef and seen as ‘poor people food’ (food only eaten by the poor).
Things changed however, when word spread about how those ‘poor people’ created a culinary masterpiece using oxtails. Cooks stewed the oxtails to sweet perfection, resulting in a captivating dish with a rich and tantalizing taste. Demand then grew for this delectable cut of beef and vendors quickly took note of its value. As the demand for oxtail grew, so did its price. Today, oxtail is no longer viewed as ‘poor people food’ but somewhat a delicacy, with the premium price to match.
How to Cook the Best Jamaican Oxtails
Here are some tips to help you to cook the best Jamaican Oxtails:
• Rinse the oxtails in vinegar or lime or lemon juice before seasoning it.
• Trim the fat from the meat to make your gravy less oily.
• Season the oxtail and let marinate for 6 – 8 hours (if possible) before cooking to infuse flavours into the meat.
• ‘Brown’ or sear the meat on both sides to ‘lock-in’ the juices and flavour.
• Cook the oxtails until soft and tender then add another layer of fresh seasonings.
If you’d love to see how I cook my oxtails, I’ve added a step-by-step Jamaican Oxtail recipe video below to make the cooking process even easier for you.
Do you have to clean Oxtails before cooking?
Whether I’ve bought oxtail from a grocery store or the butcher, I prefer to rinse my meat before I season and cook it. To clean your oxtails, place them in a large bowl then add cool water mixed with some vinegar or lemon juice. Rub the pieces of meat thoroughly to remove any debris which may be stuck to them. Rinse and drain the oxtails well before seasoning it. Go ahead and watch my Jamaican oxtail recipe video below to see exactly how it’s done!
The Perfect Treat
Tender, juicy, stewed Oxtail is the perfect treat for beef-lovers the world over. Spice up this dish by pairing it with some delicious sides. Try it with some authentic Jamaican rice and peas, some freshly tossed salad, and then wash it all down with a refreshing drink of carrot juice, pineapple ginger juice, or soursop juice.
Juicy & Tender Jamaican Oxtail Recipe - Stovetop & Pressure Cooker Method
- 2 kg oxtail stew
- 1 tsp cooking oil
- 3 tbsp brown sugar to make the browning
- 2 - 3 tsp salt or to taste
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp allspice powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1 - 2 tbsp soya sauce msg-free
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce msg-free, optional
- 1 - 2 tsp scotch bonnet pepper or to taste
- 4 cloves garlic crushed & finely chopped
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 inch ginger root crushed
- 6-8 pimento seeds
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ large green bell pepper chopped
- ½ large red bell pepper chopped
- 3 stalks scallion (green onion) chopped
- 1 small tomato diced
- ½ cube Knorr chicken bouillon or 1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
- 1 can broad or butter beans optional
- 2 - 3 tbsp ketchup
How to Clean Oxtails
- In a large bowl, add the oxtails then add enough tap water to cover it.
- Add ¼ cup vinegar or lime juice or lemon juice to the bowl.
- Rub each piece of the oxtails to remove any unwanted debris.
- If there is any excess fat on the oxtails, use a kitchen scissors or sharp knife to remove it.
- Rinse then drain all the liquid from the oxtails.
How to Season Oxtails
- In the same bowl, season the oxtails with salt, black pepper, paprika, allspice, onion powder, garlic powder, ginger powder, dried thyme leaves, soya sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Thoroughly rub the seasoning into the oxtails by hand or using a large fork or spoon.
- Prepare (cut) the fresh herbs and spices (onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, tomato, scotch bonnet pepper, bell pepper, scallion and pimento seeds) then divide them into two portions.
- Add half the portion of the fresh herbs and spices to the oxtails and rub in well.
- Cover and let the seasoned oxtails marinate for 6 - 8 hours or move immediately to the cooking method of choice.
How to Cook Oxtails on the Stovetop
- In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, stirring quickly and thoroughly for about 1 minute or until the sugar melts and turns dark brown.
- Immediately add the seasoned oxtail and allow each side of the meat to brown for 3-4 minutes.
- Using the same bowl used to season the oxtail, add 1 cup water and mix well.
- When both sides of oxtail have browned, add the water from the bowl, stir the pot then cover it and let the meat cook for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Next, add enough water to cover the meat. Stir the pot then cover it and let the oxtail cook on high heat for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Remember to stir the pot every 10 minutes.
- Check the pot regularly to make sure there is enough water to cover the meat and top it up each time it runs low. After about 3 hours, taste a small piece of the meat to check if it's fully cooked. If the meat is not as tender as you'd like it, cook it for another 15 minutes.
How to Cook Oxtails in a Pressure Cooker
- Melt 3 tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp cooking oil in an uncovered pressure cooker until it caramelizes. Add the seasoned oxtails to the pot and cook each side for 3-4 minutes or until the oxtails have completely 'browned' on both sides. Add only enough water to cover the meat (about 1 inch high). Cover the pot and pressure cook the oxtails for 25 - 30 minutes. (Test the oxtail in 25 minutes to determine if it has the desired texture.) If necessary, pressure cook it for 5 - 10 minutes more.
Making the Oxtail Gravy
- When the oxtails are fully cooked (tender), add ½ of the bouillon cube, ketchup (or 1 tbsp. brown sugar) and the second portion of chopped seasoning.
- Drain and discard the liquid from the can of beans, then add the beans to the pot.
- If the water has dried out, add enough water to cover the meat.
- Stir the pot and let the oxtails cook on medium heat for 10 - 15 minutes, stiring occasionally.
- Check the gravy for the desired consistency and taste.
- If the gravy is too thin, leave the pot uncovered to allow the gravy to thicken (approximately 10 minutes). OR - add 1 tsp. of cornstarch/flour diluted in 2 tablespoons of cool water to thicken the gravy.
- If your sauce needs more salt, you can add a bit more (to taste), stir the pot and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Bless up and enjoy it!
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