Southern style. Smothered.
- 3 lbs beef oxtails, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 large white onion, halved
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 4 celery stalks, diced
- 3 large carrots, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 C beef broth
- 3 C water, as needed
- 1 C butter (lima) beans, frozen or fresh*
- 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp + 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
- 3 tsp seasoned salt, to taste
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- water for boiling
- Place a large pot over high heat and add the oxtails, crushed garlic cloves, and the halved white onion. Cover with water and stir in the full tablespoon of kosher salt. Bring to a rolling boil and keep them there for about 30 minutes. You’ll notice a greyish foam develop on the top of the water, that’s just protein and is harmless. After the oxtail has boiled for about half an hour drain them and discard everything except the oxtails. Set those aside to cool.
- When the oxtail has cooled enough to handle, season them liberally with the smoked paprika, remaining kosher salt, Worcestershire sauce, cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. Use your hands to really work the seasonings into the meat, in every crook and cranny.
- Place a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or braiser over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Let it preheat for 2 minutes, then begin adding the oxtail to sear. Make sure there are a couple of inches between each oxtail – don’t crowd the pan, go in batches adding more oil if needed. Sear the oxtails on all six sides and set them aside.
- Preheat your oven to 300°F and make sure a rack is in the dead center. Lower the heat under the braiser or dutch oven to medium and add the red wine vinegar. Use a wooden spoon or scraper to scrape up the pan fond (the darkened bits stuck to the pan) as best you can, then stir in the mirepoix (the diced onion, carrot, and celery). Cook the vegetables for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant and slightly softened, then clear a space in the center of the pan. Add the tomato paste and minced garlic, then stir them into the mirepoix, cooking for a few minutes longer. Next, stir in the beef broth. Add the oxtail and bay leaves. The liquid should come about only about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the sides of the oxtails – we are not boiling!
- Place a lid slightly ajar on top of the pot – or use a piece of parchment paper – and place it in the oven. Cook for about 4 hours, turning the oxtails over at the top of every hour so they cook evenly and remain moist throughout. When the meat is pulling away from the bone – you should be able to see the true shape of the bone in the center of each oxtail instead of just a perfect circle, and the meat should be jiggly and loose, and easily pierced with a fork.
- Place the dutch oven back on the stove and turn the heat on to medium. Remove the oxtails and set them aside, then pour the liquid through a sieve to remove the cooked mirepoix, bay leaves, and any other solids. You can also just use a slotted spoon to remove this stuff.
- Next, remove one cup of the liquid left in the pan and transfer that to the bowl of flour. Use a whisk to whisk them together until a thick paste has formed. There should be no lumps of flour. Add that paste to the pan and whisk it into the liquid left in the pan until that has been absorbed into the paste, too. Now, add the water in one cup increments, whisking it until completely smooth before adding the next cup. Taste and add seasoned salt if needed, then stir in the butter beans.
- Add the oxtails back to the pan, and coat them in the gravy. Cover completely with the lid and either pop it back in the oven or simmer over medium heat – stirring occasionally – for 30 minutes, until the butter beans are tender. Oil will leak from the oxtail into the gravy and that’s OK, just give it a good stir before serving. Dassit!
- If you use canned butter beans you’ll only need to simmer them until warmed through.