"There's a comfort to cooking with oxtails. It's a dreamy piece of meat: It has the rich texture and flavor components that every chef dreams of - the fattiness of some cuts near the base, the leanness of others closer to the tip, and the bone marrow."
- Chef JJ Johnson
What's beef? Well, today we're going to explore one of the best cuts of beef you can get your hands on. We're also going to find out more about beef in general and share some resources for kids and adults as we make this mouthwatering braised oxtails recipe.
You can find your free printable recipe with pics down at the bottom.
If you like this recipe, you'll want to try the Mother Africa sauce, JJ's jollof rice, Afro-Asian-American gumbo, New Year's Day rice and peas, Cuban beans and rice, Costa Rican beans and rice, kala, Veggie Gumbo, Ethiopian sambusas, rabbit stew, bison chili, and pork belly.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Amazon links are not affiliate links. You can read my full affiliate disclosure.
Between Harlem and Heaven
This braised oxtails recipe comes from Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro-Asian-American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day by JJ Johnson, Alexander Smalls, and Veronica Chambers.
I was first attracted to this cookbook after coming across Chef JJ's work in Black Food: Stories, Art, and Recipes from Across the African Diaspora. Black Food is a compilation unlike anything I've experienced outside the realm of music (on its own), and JJ's jollof rice is a notable contribution.
When I discovered Between Harlem and Heaven, I was hoping to find some of those same qualities but with a unique voice and insight. I was not disappointed.
Inside, Alexander Smalls shares:
"Through slavery, Africa changed the global culinary conversation. Because African slaves built, through their labor and their farming skills, the agricultural platform for every country they went to. They took their seeds, their ingredients, and their cooking techniques and changed how the world, across five continents - Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America - ate."- Alexander Smalls
Between Harlem and Heaven explores an Afro-Asian-American flavor profile that will keep you coming back for more.
In his latest cookbook, The Simple Art of Rice: Recipes from Around the World for the Heart of Your Table, Chef JJ explores the role of rice throughout history and across cultures.
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Where Do Oxtails Come From?
Oxtail is the tail of cattle. The name apparently only used to apply to oxen but now applies to all cattle.
In Between Harlem and Heaven, JJ shares:
"In Asian (especially Korean), African, or Caribbean cuisine, oxtails are most often used in stews and soups and served with a starch like rice. The oxtail braising liquid is like a pot of gold that you can keep in your fridge, and it will add rich depth to everything you make."- JJ Johnson
The book Farm Anatomy has everything you've ever wanted to know about farm life, including parts of a cow, different breeds of dairy and beef cattle, and even how to milk a cow.
My oldest two are in the process of designing their very own farm and they use Farm Anatomy to research and sketch out what they want their farm to look like.
It's such a helpful resource for kids and adults. The illustrations make it an awesome companion to any nature journaling activities.
Farm Anatomy is one of our must-have books.
Wondering What to Serve With Oxtail?
These tamarind glazed oxtails can also be found in the pages of Between Harlem and Heaven. One of many things I find so appealing about this cookbook is that you're not just making delicious food. You're learning how to effortlessly mix, match and combine recipes to layer flavors and heighten the experience.
We enjoyed the braised oxtails with black wild rice, roasted carrots, and sautéed mushrooms. The roasted carrots recipe is another must-have. The spice combination is exactly what you come to expect once you start making your way through the cookbook.
I've also experimented with adding some of the tamarind chutney from this chaat recipe. The combination of the sweet and tangy flavors of the chutney along with the oxtail is something you're going to want to try at home.
What are the Best Resources for Learning About Cows and Other Agriculture Topics?
The American Montessori Society (AMS) offers free lessons for working with Schleich animals in both classroom and home environments, including this Language on a Farm lesson.
Schleich also shares Montessori lessons on their site, including the animals suggested for each lesson.
Elementary learners and up will find the storytelling of Sapiens Volume II: The Pillars of Civilization a thought-provoking resource for exploring topics such as the agricultural revolution.
Learn more about Black Food: Liberation, Food Justice, and Stewardship.
Interested in adding cows to your homestead? Kowalski Mountain will help you find the best homestead cattle for your needs.
How to Make Braised Oxtails
- olive oil
- oxtail - we purchased ours already prepped from the butcher
- red wine - we chose an inexpensive Malbec. Chef JJ recommends choosing a wine with moderate alcohol content (10-13 percent), such as merlot
- beef stock - you can also use veal stock
- cinnamon - this Peni Miris Cinnamon boasts hints of whiskey, honey, orange blossom, and vetiver
- bay leaves
- Apron - we opted out since we're wearing multiple layers for the weather, but feel free to grab yours
- Cutting Board
- Butcher Block - helpful if you're going to be working alongside your kids
- Child-Friendly Knife
- Chef Knife
- Prep Bowls
- Dutch Oven
- Weck Jars or Mason Jars
1. Cut the Oranges into Quarters
Wash your hands with soap and water. Grab your cutting boards, knives, and prep bowls, along with the oranges and pepper. Cut the oranges into quarters.
2. Chop the Jalapeño
I chopped the jalapeño while the kids worked on the oranges. Kids can wash their hands afterward. You can substitute bell pepper for jalapeño if you like.
The kids like cooking with peppers. I try to ensure we have extra because they like to eat them while we're prepping.
Learning Tower jokes are the best jokes.
3. Heat a Dutch Oven and Add Olive Oil
Turn the stove on medium-high heat and heat up your dutch oven or large pot. Once it's hot, add the olive oil.
4. Add the Oxtail
Once the oil is shimmering, add the oxtail. Each piece should make contact with the bottom of the pot. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
This is a good time to turn the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
The sounds when you sear the meat. Exciting for this preschooler.
5. Sear the Meat Until Lightly Browned
Turn the oxtail using tongs, or in my case, a large wooden spoon. The meat should be lightly browned after about 2 minutes on each side. Remove when finished.
6. Add the Red Wine & Turn Up the Heat
Measure the red wine in a measuring cup and add it to the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high. Use a wooden spoon to remove any caramelized bits on the bottom of the dutch oven.
The wine will boil. This is exciting too and was compared to lava.
7. Lower the Heat and Add Water & Stock
Turn the heat down to medium. Measure and add the stock and the water.
8. Add the Remaining Ingredients
Use a measuring spoon or spice spoon to add cinnamon, thyme, and parsley. Add the bay leaves, chopped jalapeño, and orange slices. Add pepper as desired.
9. Place the Oxtail Back in the Dutch Oven
Place the oxtail back in the dutch oven. Turn off the stove.
10. Cover and Braise the Oxtails for 3 to 4 Hours
Cover and place it in the oven to braise for 3 to 4 hours.
It didn't take long before our home was filled with an intoxicating aroma. Strong scents of cinnamon and citrus were drifting out the windows, inviting the kids back to the kitchen to sneak a peek and stir. I swear I was picking up whiskey from the cinnamon.
Check on it occasionally to stir and ensure the oxtail are submerged.
While you're waiting, it's an excellent time to explore the cookbook and identify any recipes that spark interest.
When finished, the meat should be tender. Falling off the bone.
Turn off the oven.
If you're wondering, the dutch oven returns to like new condition when you're done. Great investment for any home cook.
Learn how to clean your enameled cast iron dutch oven.
11. Let the Braised Oxtail Cool
When you take it out, it will be dripping with rich, flavorful liquid. The beef itself is layered, showcasing parts that are tender and meaty, intertwined with smooth, buttery textures.
Shred to combine with your favorite soups or stews, or with rice.
This braised oxtail with black wild rice, carrots, and mushrooms is a crowdpleaser.
12. Strain the Braising Liquid and Save
You can drain the braising liquid into mason jars or these weck jars, discarding the solids.
I've used mason jars for years, but I recently added these weck jars to the mix. So far, I'm completely satisfied. I prefer the size and the lid can last forever.
FREE Braised Oxtails
For you to try at home!
Free Braised Oxtails Recipe for Pre-Readers and Up
Grab your free printable recipe cards above. Kids can gather ingredients using the ingredient list, gather their equipment with the tools list, and prepare the meal using the step-by-step recipe cards, with assistance as needed.
- Weck Jars or Mason Jars
- Wash your hands with soap and water. Grab your cutting boards, knives, and prep bowls, along with the oranges and pepper. Cut the oranges into quarters.
- Chop the jalapeño. Kids can wash their hands afterward.
- Turn the stove on medium-high heat and heat up your dutch oven or large pot. Once it's hot, add the olive oil.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add the oxtail. Each piece should make contact with the bottom of the pot. Season with salt and pepper as desired. This is a good time to turn the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Sear the meat until lightly browned. Turn the oxtail using tongs or a large wooden spoon. The meat should be lightly browned after about 2 minutes on each side. Remove when finished.
- Measure the red wine in a measuring cup and add it to the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high. Use a wooden spoon to remove any caramelized bits on the bottom of the dutch oven. The wine will boil.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Measure and add the stock and the water.
- Use a measuring spoon or spice spoon to add cinnamon, thyme, and parsley. Add the bay leaves, chopped jalapeño, and orange slices. Add pepper as desired.
- Place the oxtail back in the dutch oven. Turn off the stove.
- Cover and place it in the oven. Braise the oxtail for 3-4 hours. Check on it occasionally to stir and ensure the oxtail are submerged. When finished, the meat should be tender, falling off the bone. Turn off the oven.
- Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Shred to combine with your favorite soups or stews, or with rice.
- You can drain the braising liquid into mason jars or weck jars. Save it.
- You can substitute bell pepper for jalapeño as desired
- Use a wine with moderate alcohol content (10-13 percent) and that pairs well with main ingredient
- After removing the oxtail, you can refrigerate or freeze the flavor-packed liquid to use in a soup, sauce, or stew. Use anywhere you'd use beef stock.
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
- See more guidelines at USDA.gov
- Full Lesson Info and Pictures at: https://happyhomeschooladventures.com/braised-oxtails
Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.