31 May 2012

Giving oxtail a go!

I can remember, way back into my childhood, that my Mum had a go with some oxtailI can't remember exactly what she did with it, but I am pretty sure she made a stew of some kind.  What I do know is that when it came to serving time, she was cursing having to pick the meat from the bones and swore never to touch oxtail ever again.

I also remember, quite clearly, that we all enjoyed the stew (or whatever it was) and would have eaten it again.

So it was with these mixed memories, that I decided to tackle oxtail.

You'll have to forgive me if I'm a bit naieve, but I was under the impression that oxtail was "one of the cheaper cuts of beef" that was affordable.  Now I do understand that beef isn't cheap - but I kind of expected a cow's tail to be on the cheap side of affordable.  Not £5.95 for a kilo - and a kilo of what amounts to probably 600g of bone.  We didn't even get an entire tail for our kilogram of pieces - and a considerable part of that kilogram was from the sharp end of the tail, as opposed to the meaty end!

Is it any wonder that I keep being led to the conclusion that, as a consumer, we're busily being fleeced by butchers and supermarkets alike?  Would it have killed them to have made sure that kilogram of oxtail came from the meaty end of the tail?

(There is a small voice in my head which is currently saying "I can't believe I'm talking about a cow's tail").

So, anyway, back to the cooking process.

We were having the Braised Oxtail for our Sunday dinner and, as such, hubby was in charge.  However, he finds the trimming up of meat to be a bit of a trial - and oxtail is a bit of a leery thing to have to trim.  Well, it is so obviously what it is - a cow's tail.  I, on the other hand, quite enjoy trimming up meat - so I set to with my lovely sharp knives and realised quite early on that there wasn't a great deal of meat on these pieces.  I crossed my fingers and didn't say anything - I was hoping that it might turn out to be more, when it came to taking it off of the bone.

We were using the slow cooker to do the majority of the cooking, which it did very well.

When it came to removing the meat from the bones, it was a relatively easy task as the slow cooker had worked it's magic and the meat was butter soft and tender.  We were intending on putting the meat back with the gravy, so speed wasn't so much of an issue as I can remember it being for my Mum, when she was cursing the fiddly business at dishing up time.

However, what we were left with for our £5.95, was a tea plate full of small pieces of meat, some with a jellified structure still attached (although I did my best to remove as much of that as I could) and some lovely gravy.  So this was supposed to be an economical cut?  I SO don't think so!  Especially when you consider that the same butcher was selling Silverside for £5.95 a kilogram!  Comparing what you get at the end of the cooking process highlights just how rubbish the oxtail was, value-wise.

We considered quickly grilling up a few sausages to go with the oxtail, but considered that £6 was probably quite enough to have spent on the meat for a single Sunday dinner with no hope of leftovers.

Hubby did a cracking job with the assembly of the dinner, cooking the veggies and beating the gravy into submission.  In fact, I'd say that the gravy was by far the best part of the whole oxtail experience.  I kept the leftovers of gravy and had it the following day for lunch over some fried rice.

I can tell you one thing though - we won't be buying oxtail ever again.  Not unless it goes down in price considerably - and I can't see that happening any time soon.  Especially not when you can buy 1kg of Silverside for the same amount and get two dinners out of it!

However, I have given the recipe we followed below, as if you're considering tackling oxtail and have a slow cooker, it is one of the better and more economical ways of cooking it.  Lord knows, you'll need it to be economical!

BRAISED OXTAIL  (feeds 2 although we did stretch it to 3)

Ingredients :

1 medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1kg oxtail joints, trimmed of fat
2-3 large carrots, sliced
1 bouquet garni
250ml beef stock (from a cube is fine)
25g plain flour
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
1 small glass red wine.

Method :

1.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion until light golden brown, then transfer to the slow cooker and turn it on to low.

2.  Add the oxtail to the frying pan and cook until lightly browned.  Drain on kitchen paper then add to the slow cooker.  You may need to do this in batches.

3.  Add the carrots, bouquet garni and stock to the slow cooker and turn up to High.  Cook for 6 hours.

4.  An hour before the end of cooking, mix the flour with a little water then stir into the gravy along with the redcurrant jelly and the glass of wine.

5.  Once the hour is up, serve with potatoes and vegetables.

Printable version.



  1. I love oxtail, but I agree it is by no means a "cheap" cut. We stretched a 1.5kg piece to four portions - but that was using it in a stew with chorizo which added a bit more meat to the whole. It's a shame.


  2. Agree - oxtail is nowhere near as cheap as it used to be.
    I think the same can be said of a lot of the 'economy' cuts at the moment - I guess they're quite trendy at the moment...

    I am surprised, though, that your 1kg didn't go far.
    I'd generally expect the 1.5kg that we usually get to extend to at least 5 or 6 servings.

    Maybe it depends a bit what you're looking for - I'd normally make it into some kind of stewy/raguey type thing, where the gelatinous meaty sauce was as (or maybe more) important than actual chunks of meat...

    Yours looks really tasty, in any case!

  3. I like your recipe very much because in Greece we cook it very often. The only differences are that we put tomato sauce and garlic and we add a little sugar instead of jelly!!! Anyway i will try your recipe next time!!!Bravo!!!

    New member

  4. Tvoj recept mora da je jako dobar,ali bih ti savjetovao da ne odvajaš meso od kosti već da ga čitavog dugo dinstaš dok ne dođe ljepljiv pod prstima.U mojoj zemlji(Hrvatskoj)se sprema slično kao i u Grčkoj,a kao prilog služimo pure od krumpira.Sviđaju mi se tvoji recepti i pokušati ću spremiti neki od njih.Pozdrav od Eda iz Hrvatske.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Even though I have put this comment through Google translate, I still can't make head nor tail of it. Does anyone out there know what Sirijus is saying?

  6. Io ho detto che la tua riceta mi piace ma che noi in Croatia la faciamo simile ai Greci,metiamo i pomodori pelati e il aglio.Ti volevo dare un consiglio, non tagliare la carne dal osso, fala cuocere intera a'lungo .Qando la carne si attachera alle dita ,alora e cotta.

    1. Okay! Babelfish did a better job with Italian. :) So, you're saying that you normally use tomato and onion/garlic and to not remove the meat from the bone.

      Righto - I think I got it this time!

  7. Must try your oxtail stew...simply love picking meat off the bones! And it's a slow cooker recipe too!
    Chumkie of
    My Favourite Recipes.

    1. I'll have to get you to come and do the picking if ever I find myself tempted to do Oxtail again, then Chumkie! LOL It drove me bonkers! :)


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