Thursday, November 10, 2016

O is for: Oxtail Ragu

Daylight savings time is the WORST.

Ok, aside from that *one* night you get an extra hour of sleep (conveniently falling the night of my housewarming party), it's a total drag.

It starts getting dark at like 4:30, which is totally depressing and also horrible for getting food photos done. But mostly it's just depressing.

It's times like these that call for comfort food. Things like pasta and hearty ragu sauces and garlic bread for sopping up that delicious sauce. And cheese. And red wine. Lots of red wine.

Don't worry, I won't tell if you carb load on this amazing sauce. It's not like we need to be in bikinis anytime soon. (Oh wait. I'm going to Thailand in two weeks. Oh well... screw it, I'm eating pasta.)

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Times

Oxtail is exactly what it sounds like. Meat from the tail of an ox. (Though these days, it can be from a cow as well.) I of course got mine at my favorite store, Avon Prime Meats. I also made my sauce at night (see previous comment about Daylight Savings Time), so this is not my photo. It's from a similar recipe posted in the Tampa Bay Times, but I wanted you to see what it looked like, so I'm borrowing it until I can take my own photo.

It's a pretty fatty cut of meat, which lends itself well to braising... which lends itself well to a meaty pasta sauce. Ask your butcher to cut it into 2-3" pieces. Trim as much as the fat off the edges as you can (don't worry, there's plenty of it to go around). Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Heat some olive oil in a large heavy dutch oven and brown on all sides. (This process will take about 15-20 minutes). Remove to a large bowl and set aside.

The sauce itself is very similar to my Wild Boar Ragu sauce, except this doesn't include the overnight marinade and I braised it in the oven instead of the stove. Once you've browned the meat, you saute a mirepoix of finely chopped onion, carrots and celery (I use my food processor), along with some garlic and rosemary. For some reason I'm very partial to rosemary in these sauces, but you can really use whichever herb you love. Thyme would also be good in this recipe. Add a large can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, some wine and add the meat back in. Add enough beef broth to just cover the oxtail and braise it covered, in the oven, for about 3 hours at 325 degrees, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

If you are able to make this a day in advance (and even up to 4), I would highly recommend. It will allow you to cool the meat and remove the shreds by hand, giving you more chance to get rid of the fatty pieces. Also, the sauce will be verrrry fatty, so this allows it to cool in the fridge and you can then scrape off the bright orange layer (fat) before reheating and serving. Plus, I feel like sauces are always better the next day once all the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

As for what kind of pasta to serve with it? I went with a delicious imported and large gnocci (a gift from Matt at APM!) and it was perfect. But this would also be fabulous with any hearty pasta, such as a rigatoni, or maybe even a casarecce, strozapretti, garganelli or a papparadelle.

Don't forget to top with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese!

Buon Appetito! And don't let that early sunset get you down.

Oxtail Ragu

by Jaymee Sire
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Keywords: braise entree oxtail Italian fall winter

Ingredients (6 servings)
  • 4 pounds oxtail, cut into 2-3" pieces
  • kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 (32 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 cups dry red Italian wine
  • 1-2 cups beef broth (can sub chicken broth if necessary)
  • 1 pound of hearty pasta (such as gnocchi, rigatoni, casarecce, garganelli, strozapreti or papparadelle)
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Season oxtail liberally with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot, such as a dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Brown the oxtail on all sides. (This process will take about 15-20 minutes). Remove to a large plate or bowl.
  3. While meat is browning, cut onion, carrot and celery into large chunks and place in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, just before it turns to a paste.
  4. Sauté the vegetables in the pot used to brown the meat until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook another minute. Add tomatoes and wine and bring just to a boil, smashing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon to break them up. Add the meat back in and fill with beef broth until the meat is just covered.
  5. Bring to a simmer and cover. Remove from heat and place in the oven. Cook for 2.5-3 hours or until meat is falling off the bone.
  6. Remove oxtails to a rimmed baking sheet and cool. Pull meat off the bones and shred, removing excess fat. Place meat back in the sauce and bring to a simmer, adding more beef broth depending on your preference for consistency. If serving right away, skim as much as the oil off the surface. If not serving until the next day or more, refrigerate and scrape the orange fatty layer off the top of the sauce once it has cooled.
  7. When you are ready to serve, reheat the sauce on the stove. Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve one cup of pasta water. Add cooked pasta to sauce and as much as the pasta water necessary to achieve your desired consistency for sauce.
  8. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Powered by Recipage


  1. Sounds fantatsic!! not sure if I've seen Ox tail at my local store, but I'll check it out

  2. Well...this brings me back to my first job out of culinary school, the dearly departed Splendido at Embarcadero 4 in SF - the pastry kitchen got to order off the menu for lunch, since we did a lot of stuff for the restaurant prior to lunch service (baking bread at 5:00am, making all of the desserts, ice creams, sorbets, etc.). The one item I had more than once was the saffron gnocchi with oxtail ragu, which looked just like this, but with a strip of cambozola on top! It's a wonder I didn't gain 30 pounds my first month there. Thank you for bringing back such a happy food epiphany! :)


I would LOVE to hear what you think. I read every comment and get a little giddy when I see someone has left one on the blog. Thanks for stopping by!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...