Oxtail & Butter Beans

Oxtail & Butter Beans

If there’s one thing I used to miss during my pescatarian days it was definitely oxtail. I love oxtail!! If I’m ordering from a Caribbean take away I will always…literally always choose oxtail with plain rice, coleslaw and fried plantain. When cooked correctly it is such a tender meat and its gelatinous nature adds a slight sweetness that I just enjoy so much.

It took me many years to come to the realisation that oxtail was literally an ox’s tail and if you go the butcher’s they will usually have whole tails for sale and pieces. I always select a whole tail and then ask them to cut it into medium size pieces for me. That way I can pick out the tails I think look freshest and most meaty, and you can get a mixture of different cuts.

Oxtail is traditionally cooked with butter beans which are included in this recipe, although I don’t really care for them and rarely ever add them in. When I do though, I don’t like to add too many as they thicken the gravy as they soften and can create an undesirable consistency.


  • Serves: 4-6
  • Prep time: Overnight
  • Cooking time: 2 ½–3 hrs

Ingredients

  • 1 kg oxtail, cut into pieces, washed
  • 400g butter beans (usually 1 tin)
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme (approx.)
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1–2 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 scallion, squashed
  • ½ pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ large carrot, chopped
  • ¼ cho-cho, peeled & chopped
  • 1 ¾–2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp ground pimento
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tbsp ginger purée
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ tbsp garlic purée
  • ½ tbsp gravy browning
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 litres hot water

Prep

  1. Prepare your meat by rinsing it off in some cold water and vinegar or lemon juice.
  2. Add in 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp paprika, ½ tbsp mixed herbs, ½ tsp curry powder, 1 tsp garlic granules, ½ tbsp ginger purée, ½ tbsp ground pimento and ½ tbsp gravy browning.
  3. Use your hands to rub the seasoning into the meat until it is mixed well.
  4. Add in the onion, red pepper, carrot, cho-cho, garlic cloves and mix.
  5. Add the fresh thyme and scallion and leave to marinate overnight or as long as possible.

Method

  1. When ready to cook, heat the coconut oil in a Dutch pot (or another deep pot) and add in the meat and vegetables.
  2. Brown the meat on a high heat for two minutes and then stir and place the pot lid on top.
  3. Leave the meat to simmer on a high heat for approx. 15 mins to allow the vegetables to sweat, after which time liquid should be accumulating in the bottom of the pot
  4. Add in 1 litre of hot water, the bay leaves and scotch bonnet peppers and leave to boil on a high heat for 1 hr–1 hr 15 mins.
  5. Stir the pot every so often, taking care to remove the scotch bonnets whilst stirring.
  6. By this time a lot of the water should have reduced however, the meat will not be tender enough.
  7. Add in another litre of hot water and 1 tbsp of ground pimento, ½ tbsp paprika, ½ tbsp mixed herbs, ½ tbsp garlic purée, ½ tbsp ginger purée, 1 tbsp of brown sugar and ¼-½ tbsp sea salt.
  8. Stir the pot every so often, taking care to remove the scotch bonnets whilst stirring.
  9. Leave to cook on a medium-high heat for another 1 hr–1 hr 15 mins, until the meat is tender and easy to remove off of the bone. The water should have reduced significantly to a nice gravy.
  10. If you think after 1hr 15 mins that the meat is still not soft enough turn the heat down to a low – medium heat and leave it to simmer for another 15 mins or until you are happy.
  11. Drain the water off of the butter beans and add them into the pot, stir and leave to simmer on a low heat for approx. 15 mins until beans have softened.
  12. Remove from heat and serve with rice & peas or plain rice, fried plantain and coleslaw

As with my curry goat recipe I don’t like to add anything to thicken the gravy, however if you do add too much water you can use cornflour to thicken it.

Adding the brown sugar helps to balance out the savoury flavours in this dish; start with 1 tablespoon and see how you feel but I do know a few people that prefer it on the sweeter side.

Hopefully you are able to find a butcher that you can trust to sell you fresh meat; on average this amount of oxtail should be cooked within 3 hours, so if you find that after 3 hours of cooking it is still not soft then you may have been sold old/low quality meat ☹

Finally, it’s extremely important that you use Sarson’s Gravy Browning specifically, as other brands have a slightly bitter taste and can potentially ruin your dish.

Enjoy! 😊


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