Oxtail Ragout

March 25, 2010 · 9 comments

filed in: Beef,Main Courses,Soups/Stews,Vegetables

Oxtail Ragout

Spring is rumored to have arrived here, but I’m not quite sure I believe yet. I, for one, am still reaching for a sweater every morning and still finding that wintertime dishes, such as this Oxtail Ragout, hit the spot at dinner time.

I grew to love oxtails while living until recently in South Africa, where they are considered homey comfort food and the perfect dinner remedy for a chilly evening. For readers unfamiliar with oxtails, just imagine your favorite short ribs dish, but with its unctuously beefy flavor intensified. Oxtails also make a superb base for home cooked beef stock for those of you who make it.

The following recipe for oxtail ragout was inspired by my mother’s wonderful approach to short ribs ragout, which, in turn, likely owes a passing (but respectful) nod to Julia Child’s classic recipe for Beef Bourguignon. My innovations, aside from using oxtails as the main attraction, include using a much lighter hand with added butter and oil, applying a simplified cooking technique, and including more vegetables in the dish to increase its healthy appeal. Whole mushrooms, pearl onions, carrots, parsnips, and baby potatoes play more than a minor role in this one-dish meal, which I hope you enjoy.


2 pounds meaty oxtails, cut at the joints and trimmed of excess fat
2 tablespoons flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 celery stalk
3-4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 strips bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 can of cubed tomatoes, undrained
1 1/4 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Burgundy
1 1/4 cups beef broth (preferably home made)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
6 baby potatoes, peeled
5-6 carrots, peeled
2-3 parsnips, peeled
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound small, or “pearl,” white onions
1/2 pound whole mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Dry the oxtails with a paper towel and sprinkle them on all sides with the seasoned flour. Using kitchen string, tie the celery, parsley, and bay leaf into a bouquet. Set both aside.
  • In a large Dutch oven set on a medium-heat burner, fry the bacon in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove the bacon, finely mince it, and set it aside.
  • In the same Dutch oven, sauté the oxtails in the remaining oil until they are well browned on all sides. Add the minced onion and garlic and stir until they are golden in color. Add the herb bouquet, reserved minced bacon, tomatoes, red wine, beef broth (or water), and thyme. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for approximately 2 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender.
  • Remove the herb bouquet from the Dutch oven and discard. Skim any excess fat that may have risen to the top and discard.
  • Add the potatoes, carrots, and parsnips to the oxtails cooking in the Dutch oven. Cover and simmer for an additional 30-45 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
  • In a separate frying pan set on a medium-high heat burner, sauté the pearl onions and mushrooms in butter until browned and transfer them to the Dutch oven. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the oxtails and vegetables to a serving dish. Approximately 1 1/2 cup of slightly thickened sauce should remain in the Dutch oven. If your sauce seems too thin, reduce it by boiling it, uncovered, on high for a few minutes; if too thick, add a small amount of additional broth. Taste the sauce, correct the seasoning to suit your preference, and pour it through a sieve (pressing down on the strained ingredients with a spoon as you do so) over the oxtails and vegetables in the serving dish. Serves 4-6.
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    { 8 Comments...read them below or add one }

    Amanda March 29, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    I’ve made oxtail a couple of times, will have to try this one, looks great!


    Stella March 29, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    This photo is tantalizing. I want that food now!


    Barbara March 29, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Many thanks Honey, Megan, Sarah, Debra, and Scott. Oxtails really are wonderful, although they’re pricier here in the US, darn it, than seems quite right.


    Scott K March 28, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    OMG that looks good!


    SMITH BITES March 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I am soooooo all over this recipe as I love, love, love a good meat & potatoes dish; my butcher carries oxtail so I’m going to give this recipe a go! Lovely site, by the way!


    Sarah @ Mum In Bloom March 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I think I will try oxtails now just to make this delicious sounding recipe. Your blog is so lovely. Very calm, quiet and simple. I love it.


    megan March 28, 2010 at 12:40 am

    I just saw oxtails for the first time at the butcher shop the other day. I have to admit, it sounds mighty tasty!


    HoneyB March 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    I have never had oxtails before, but it certainly looks delicious! I would be willing to try it!


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