A How-To Cooking VLOG: Cuban Oxtail Stew for Two
This beef recipe—oxtails—is a very old Cuban dish, simple to do, but here presented with a touch of modern. It is browned then marinated in hearty red wine, garlic, onions and capers for a minimum of overnight but preferably 24 hours and up to 48 hours for ultimate flavors. It is then slowly simmered for many more hours. I’ll tell you now that the cooking meat’s aromas—not to mention the waiting!—is enough to keep you drooling and drive you insane.
The end result: the meat is tender and literally falling off the bone. The flavors speak to your taste-buds like singing poetry. And I can attest to this. My family literally hums through their meal; we tend to slurp loudly while licking our fingers.
Oh-yeah, it is that good!
This recipe was given to my mother when she was just a very young bride; consequently she has lovingly shown her daughters how to prepare this melt-in-your-mouth beef stew. I in turn will teach it to my children.
Come; take a comfortable seat at our cozy table. Dinner is served!
Recipe is for 2 hearty servings (with maybe a little leftover to fight over the next day!)
STEPS 1 (marinade):
Personal Note: In the video, the Vlog, I show using 2 cups of red wine plus a little more (my husband had requested a thicker sauce). I prefer using more wine for a thinner sauce, as you will note in my recipe below. Again, this is a very personal choice, as is with the use of the tomato paste (I like the strong, robust flavor of using lots of tomato paste, where as others may choose to use half of what my recipe calls for). Feel free to make your own variations. Make cooking fun!
1 tablespoon peanut oil (or oil of choice)
2 pounds beef oxtails, trimmed of most fat and pat-dried (important) well
3 cups red wine (such as Zinfandel), more if needed to almost cover meat
1/4 cup cream sherry
2 tablespoons brandy
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon dry Italian herbs
1/4 cup capers, with juice
1/2 tablespoon coarse gray salt or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (more or less OR omit if you want)
1 bay leaf
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed and oven-proof pot Dutch oven or appropriate pot of choice, (this same pot will be used to marinate and cook the meat in the oven), on medium-high heat, and quickly brown top and bottom of oxtail pieces. (Do not crowd the pieces of meat or they will steam instead of browning.)
- When all the meat is browned, arrange the meat in the same pot used for browning, add the rest of the ingredients, layering evenly to cover meat, and allow pot to cool completely (1-2 hours) before covering tightly with plastic (I also suggest using foil over the plastic; this helps to contain the garlic’s and onion’s pungent aroma from spreading in your fridge), and then place the cooled pot in the fridge to marinate at least overnight.
STEPS 2 (Day of cooking):
Marinating oxtails from steps 1
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste (or 1/2 can only, depends on very personal taste)
- Take the oxtails out of the fridge and allow the pot to come to room temperature (1 to 2 hours) before heating.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Set the pot of oxtails on the large burner and on high-heat bring to a quick boil. As soon as it boils hard, cover, turn off burner and carefully place pot in the center of oven.
- Cook the oxtail 3-4 hours, or until it is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Add tomato paste, blending well, and adjust salt to taste at this time. Cover the pot and cook for another 30-45 minutes and up to 1 hour. (The meat should be falling-off-the-bone tender!)
Serve oxtails with steamed rice or mashed potatoes. And don’t forget to ladle some extra sauce over the rice or potatoes.
Cook with heart; eat with gusto. Buen Provecho!
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By Kalyn Denny