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My Southern Style Oxtail Stew is a simple, easy-to-prepare recipe. Oxtails are cooked low and slow with carrots, onions, and spices, then served over hot, fluffy rice.
Okay, I know I’ve already lost some of you just based on the recipe title. Oxtail Stew. Yes, that’s right, I’m cooking with oxtails.
Now, I know it’s not every day that you see an oxtail recipe. But trust me. This is slow cooked, browned meat deliciousness. Wipe your plate with a roll deliciousness.
I know that this is one of the less familiar cuts of meat, but it is also one of the most flavorful. So what if it comes from the fly-flicking end of the cow.
I hadn’t cooked old-fashioned Oxtail Stew in a long time until I made this recipe recently. Apparently, oxtail has increased in demand over the past few years. And, considering how little meat is on one tail (about 7-8 pounds per cow), you can see that there’s not that much oxtail available, therefore making it more expensive.
I remember when oxtails used to be dirt cheap. Just about the cheapest thing in the meat counter but not now. Actually, there’s not really anything in the meat counter that’s dirt cheap these days. But still, oxtails are a pretty good bargain.
They make great soups and stews but keep in mind that they need long, slow cooking to break down the connective tissue and become melt in your mouth wonderful. I like to serve this stew over rice, but egg noodles are great, too.
Table of contents
Ingredient and Equipment Notes
Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy ingredient list. Most of them are simple, everyday pantry items. In fact, I’d be surprised if you didn’t have all of these on hand right now, minus the oxtail.
- Oxtails (You should be able to find these in any grocery store’s meat counter. If you don’t see them, ask. I’m pretty sure they’ll have them on hand.)
- Beef broth (You can use canned, boxed, bouillon cubes, or your own homemade.)
- Diced tomatoes (I use canned for convenience. You can certainly use fresh.)
- Flour (Plain, all-purpose, nothing fancy flour.)
- Herbs (Note that you can substitute fresh herbs for any of the dried herbs called for in the recipe. The rule of thumb is to always use 1/3 as much dried as fresh.)
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Simple Southern Oxtail Stew with Rice
Let’s Go Step-by-Step
I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.
Season the oxtails liberally with salt and pepper.
Brown the Oxtails
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Brown the oxtails very well on all sides and set aside. Good, thorough browning equals luscious flavor.
Add Remaining Ingredients
To the pan, add the beef broth, garlic cloves, basil, oregano, bay leaves, and diced tomatoes with their juice.
Return the oxtails along with any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a slow, steady simmer. Cover and cook for 2 ½ hours.
Add the onion, potatoes, and carrots to the pan and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and oxtails from the pan.
Thicken the Liquid
In a small bowl, combine the butter and flour to create a smooth mixture.
Increase the heat to medium and whisk the butter-flour mixture into the broth a spoonful at a time. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
Finish the Stew
Return the oxtails to the thickened broth turning them to coat. Serve the vegetables and oxtails with thickened sauce over hot, steamed rice.
What to Serve with This
Oxtail stew will leave you with a warm, content feeling and you really don’t need much to make it into a full meal. I’d suggest a steamed or roasted green vegetable and, perhaps, hot rolls or bread with butter. Keep the dessert light as well with something like my light and fluffy Angel Cake with strawberries, or a fancy “you outdid yourself” style dessert like my Pavlova with Lemon Curd and Fresh Berries.
An ox is a fully grown steer (castrated male cattle) and, in the past, “oxtail” only came from oxen. These days oxtails come from either male or female cattle.
While it’s not absolutely necessary to brown the oxtails before stewing them, I do highly recommend it. Browning meat (the Maillard reaction) results in caramelization which greatly enhances the flavor of the finished stew. It also produces a beautiful color in the finished recipe. Adding the meat to the stew without browning first produces a kind of sickly, grey color in the finished product.
Oxtail is a fairly tough cut of meat. It has a lot of connective tissue and collagen which requires long, slow cooking. Stewing the meat over low temperature breaks down the tissues and renders the meat tender and delicious.
If you have any leftover oxtails and rice, you can store them both in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I do recommend keeping the stew and the rice in separate containers to prevent overcooking the rice during the reheating process by mixing them all together.
You may not want to freeze this recipe. Not only do potatoes tend to freeze poorly, but the thickening agent (flour and butter) may also separate while freezing. I would skip the freezer for this recipe.
To reheat the oxtail stew, place it in a saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat until it comes up to temperature. For the rice, place it in a pot, add a few tablespoons of water, break up any clumps you see and seal with a tight lid. Heat on medium-low, checking frequently to make sure the rice isn’t sticking to the pan.
You can serve any kind of rice you have on hand with oxtail stew. Steamed white rice or brown rice both work fine. My preference is basmati.
- 3 pounds beef oxtails
- Kosher salt
- black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups beef broth
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 14.5 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and quartered
- 8 small potatoes halved
- 4 medium carrots cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon flour
- Steamed rice for serving
- Season the oxtails liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Brown the oxtails and set aside.
- To the pan, add the beef broth, garlic cloves, basil, oregano, bay leaves, and diced tomatoes with their juice. Return the oxtails along with any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
- Add the onion, potatoes, and carrots to the pan and continue cooking for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and oxtails from the pan. In a small bowl, combine the butter and flour to create a smooth mixture. Increase the heat to medium and whisk the butter-flour mixture into the broth a spoonful at a time. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.
- Return the oxtails to the thickened broth turning them to coat.
- Serve the vegetables and oxtails with sauce over hot, steamed rice.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.