Oxtail Stew

This oxtail stew is inspired by the Jamaican version, with tender oxtails and butter beans seasoned with spicy habaneros, ginger and allspice. Time is the key to the comforting brown gravy, which simmers for several hours, intensifying in flavor and rich color. We love it even more the next day, once the beans have had time to break down and the oxtails melt into the gravy even more. Serve with a few dashes of hot sauce for added heat and acidity.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 15 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 pounds oxtails, cut into 2-inch segments 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 stalks celery, diced 

2 medium carrots, diced 

1 medium onion, diced 

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 

1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece) 

1/4 cup tomato paste 

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 

4 cups low-sodium beef broth 

8 whole allspice berries 

6 sprigs thyme 

2 dried bay leaves 

2 tablespoons light brown sugar 

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 

1 habanero or Scott bonnet chile 

One 15-ounce can butter beans, drained and rinsed 

4 scallions, thinly sliced 

Cooked medium-grain white rice, for serving

Hot sauce, for serving 

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the oxtails with a good pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper. Add half of the oxtails to the hot oil and cook until well browned on each side, about 8 minutes total. Use tongs to remove the seared oxtail to a large plate or bowl, then repeat with the remaining oxtails; remove.
  2. Add the celery, carrots and onion to the pot and cook until just tender, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it turns brick red in color, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, then stir until combined. Stir in the beef broth, allspice, thyme, bay leaves, brown sugar, and Worcestershire until combined. Cut an "X" in the pointy end of the chile (opposite the stem) with a small paring knife, then add to the pot.  
  3. Return the browned oxtails to the pot, making sure all the pieces are submerged in the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, covered, until the meat is very tender and nearly falling off the bone, about 3 hours.  
  4. Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaves. Skim the excess fat from the top of the stew with a small ladle, then stir in the butter beans until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, top with scallions and serve with white rice.