What is Oxtail, How to Cook It, and What You're Missing
If you’re in a butcher shop in France, Italy, Spain, or the Middle East you will always find Oxtail on display and hugely popular among locals. Go to a restaurant in Singapore, Hong Kong, or Japan and their Oxtail recipes will knock your socks off. If you have never tried Oxtail, you're in for a real treat!
In this article, TruBeef takes a closer look at Oxtail to address some of the common questions:
- Is Oxtail Beef?
- What is an Oxtail?
- Oxtail in America
- Is Oxtail good for you?
- What does Oxtail Taste Like?
- How to cook Oxtail?
- How to Store Oxtail?
SO WHAT IS OXTAIL AND IS OXTAIL BEEF?
Oxtail is most definitely beef. It is simply the tail from Beef Cattle. Back in the day, Oxtail came from the tail of an “Ox” i.e., a male, steer, trained to work on the farm hence the name Oxtail but it’s now sourced from cattle of any sex. A typical Oxtail will weigh around 7 to 8 pounds and is a combination of the tail bone, surrounding meat, and a nice fat layer.It's meat is luscious and rich.
By the time you see Oxtail for sale, it has been skinned and cut into portions that are oval in shape.
Each portion will be approximately 2” long which is an ideal size for braising and slow cooking to cook the meat but also an ideal size to maximize the release of the bone marrow, fats, and gelatinous collagen.
BEEF OXTAIL IN AMERICA ~ PRESENT AND PAST
Due to this lovely cut of meat needing slow ‘wet cooking ‘along with the popularity of modern high-pressure cookers, Oxtail has made a timely comeback in kitchens across America and rightly so.
With its unique versatility, texture, and flavor profile, Oxtail recipes and menu items have become common in high-end restaurants. Enjoying Oxtail at home is also a great cut to start eating eat nose-to-tail organ meats for those new or not familiar with Offal meats.
This ‘alternative cut’ was once very much mainstream in American homes up until the early 1950s before the advent of cheap industrial farming which meant cheap steaks for all and other cuts like Oxtail falling out of fashion.
The only lifeline given to Oxtail demand in the interim years was thanks to the unique Soul Food cuisine served up in African American restaurants and dinner tables across the whole USA which traditionally paired braised Oxtail over rice and gravy.
IS OXTAIL GOOD FOR YOU?
Want to know why women in Japan and Korea have such flawlessly smooth-looking skin?
Answer: A tradition of eating natural bioavailable collagen from Beef Oxtail soup, Braised Beef Feet, and Stewed Pigs Feet. All of which are delicious and rich sources of collagen, fat, bone marrow, and protein.
Beef Oxtail is a fat and collagen powerhouse and it's no surprise that Beef Oxtail is a firm favorite amongst the Paleo Diet and Carnivore Diet communities for it's satiating energy.
Natural Collagen is Mother Nature's ultimate building block for growth and repair. Approximately 40% of natural collagen found in Mammals is in their tail and feet so you get a massive blast of natural bioavailable Collagen from eating Oxtail.
You also get the added benefit of a rich gelatinous bone broth when you slow cook Oxtail in nothing but water, some garlic cloves, and carrot and celery. This bonus bone broth just needs to be stored in the refridgerator and heated whenever you want a cup of comfort.
Nutritional Macros of Beef Oxtail per 100-gram serving are:
- 674 calories
- Total Fat 71 g with 29g Saturated Fat
- Total Protein 8g
- Zero Trans-fatty Acids
BENEFITS OF EATING OXTAIL: NATURAL COLLAGEN
- Skin, Hair and Nails Health. Collagen is found in skin, hair, and nail care products for a reason, it works! Collagen helps maintain skin suppleness and moisture retention. Collagen makes up more than 25% of the protein in our body and acts like structural scaffolding due to its high tensile strength.
- Human Growth Hormone. The dipeptide, hydroxyproline-glycine, has been shown in high levels in the blood after consuming collagen. Research suggests that this dipeptide may be a stimulant in the human body to create HGH (growth hormone) from the pituitary gland.
Improved Sleep. Sipping a mug of warm Collagen rich broth before bed could help with a good night's sleep is not an old wives tale. This study shows that just 3 grams of glycine taken before bed can improve sleep quality.
- Fortifies Joint and Connective Tissue. Collagen plays a key role in stimulating osteoblast activity, protecting, and lubricating our bones joints, and even speeding up the healing process for fractures and broken bones.
- Osteoarthritis. Collagen has been shown to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis. This research paper in 2006 by the University of Illinois College of Medicine demonstrated a significant reduction in pain caused by Osteoarthritis.
- Vascular and Heart Health. Our entire vascular system is made up of toughened connective tissues. Increasing your Collagen intake keeps the miles and miles of tissue in your vascular system walls strong and pliable.
- Collagen and Exercise. Physical exertion has been shown in studies to increase hormone activity that upregulates Collagen absorption for approximately 72 hours post-exercise.
- Collagen and Age. It is estimated that we lose 1% of our natural endogenous collagen per year after 30 years of age so, by age 50, we could lose up to 20% of our collagen production. Eating natural collagen-rich foods like Beef Oxtail will help bolster this loss.
Image Credit: Differencebetween.net
The Molecular Structure of Collagen is extremely strong and tightly woven. The smallest molecules in collagen, called tropocollagen molecules, are five to ten times stronger than steel. A true building block in the human body.
WHAT DOES OXTAIL TASTE LIKE?
Despite looking rather odd, Oxtail has a unique luscious taste and mouthfeel that is well worth a try.
The closest cut of Beef to Oxtail in terms of taste and texture would be Beef Cheeks. If you haven’t tried Beef Cheeks, then think of super soft and fatty short ribs as a ballpark similar comparison.
Here is how we describe our own Organic Grass-Fed & Grass-Finished Oxtail to customers when its slow-cooked:
“DEEP NATURAL FLAVOR”, “INTENSELY ROBUST AND BEEFY”, “SILKY SMOOTH”, “FALL OFF THE BONE SOFT MEAT”, “FATTY AND GELATENOUS”, “SATIATING”, “RICH AND DELICIOUS”.
HOW TO STORE OXTAIL?
If you keep your refrigerator temperature at or below 40 °F (4 °C) Oxtail will keep in your refrigerator for 4 to 5 days with no problems before cooking. If you wrap the oxtail well in an airtight packaging or freezer bag, Beef Oxtail will keep in the freezer for a year once it is set to 0 °F ( -18 °C).
WHERE TO BUY OXTAIL?
Oxtail is growing in popularity all the time for its unique taste, deep beefy flavor, and health benefits. It is still proving difficult to find Oxtail in most mainstream grocery stores, so we suggest:
- Order Oxtail from your local butcher. They may not stock it but should be able to order for you.
- Halal Certified Oxtail meat is also easily found in Middle Eastern supermarkets and Halal Butchers.
- Buy Oxtail from a local beef farmer who has the capacity and license to slaughter also. Ideally buy from a farm that raises beef that is Organic Grass-fed and Grass-finished to get the most natural Oxtail possible.
- Online butchers and meat purveyors are also starting to stock Beef Oxtail and are a convenient and contactless way to get oxtail to your home.
HOW TO COOK BEEF OXTAIL?
Oxtail needs slow cooking!
With all that connective tissue, cartilage, and bone marrow in Oxtail, you need to slow cook Beef Oxtail in a moist heat such as braising to break these down. Oxtail just needs time, a braising liquid and requires very little work.
Slow n’ low cooking will melt away these sinews and bone marrow into collagen and gelatin-rich broth and produce a rich and soft fall of the bone fatty meat packed with flavor.
Your most valuable tool on how to cook oxtail is going to be a traditional Slow Cooker Crock Pot or a modern Pressure Cooker / Slow Cooker combi appliance like this.
Oxtail Cooking Time
Traditional Slow Cooking ~ 2 ½ to 3 hours
Modern Pressure Cooker Crock Pot ~ 50 mins to 1 hour
Generally, and if you are not on a restrictive or zero-carb diet, braised Oxtail is ideally served with something to soak up all the juices and rich broth (some call it Oxtail gravy) left from the slow cooking process. Oxtail and rice, over mashed potatoes, with good quality pasta or crusty bread, are firm favorites in Mediterranean countries.
POPULAR BEEF OXTAIL RECIPE
Oxtail Soup is a TruBeef favorite for its simplicity and the standout classic when it comes to any Oxtail recipe. Originating in London in the 1700s, Oxtail soup is still enjoyed across Europe as it did then. Here is a quick rundown of this Oxtail recipe.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer
Traditional Oxtail Soup Ingredients:
- 3 tbsp of Beef Suet, Tallow, or Olive Oil
- 2 lbs to 3lbs of Oxtail in 2” sections
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 2 or 3 sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- 2 tsp Tomato Puree
- 10 fl oz (300 ml) red wine
- 1 tbsp plain flour (optional)
- 50 fl oz (1.4 L) of Bone Broth
- 1 tsp of Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp course Black Pepper
- 2 Garlic Bulbs, cut in half
* Note, for those on a highly restrictive elimination diet, animal based diet, we suggest using the Oxtail with nothing more than salt, water and a few broth or marrow bones to add flavor however, slow cooked Oxtail will yield a nice flavored broth using just water.
OXTAIL SOUP PREPARATION ~ in 70 minutes, from start to finish!
This method requires a modern Instantpot pressure cooker or crockpot and only takes 1 hour 10 minutes including prep time. No need to sear the oxtails first. Just set it and forget it!
- Place all the same traditional oxtail soup ingredients into the crockpot at the same time except the veggies.
- Set the crockpot to pressure cook for 50 minutes
- Release the pressure slowly over 10 minutes.
- Use a ladle to skim off some of the fat on top (optional)
- Gently scoop out the oxtail meat and bones from the soup.
- Throw the veggies into the soupy broth and cook on medium for 10 minutes for a nice texture and crunch to the veggies.
- Place the beef oxtails back in and serve all together.
QUICK AND EASY OXTAIL SOUP IN JUST OVER AN HOUR :)
ALTERNATIVE CUTS TO OXTAIL
Beef Cheeks are a great alternative as it has many of the charateristics of Oxtail meat i.e. soft tender meat, full of gelatenous collagen that needs to be slow cooked for best results.
Our own Broth Bones are a fantastic value for money alternative to Oxtail becuase each bag is 70% Neck Bones and 30% Knuckle Bones. Beef Neck Bones are surrounded in tasty soft meat just like Oxtail is and each joint has a generous amount of collagen just like Oxtail also. Learn how to cook marrow bones in 3 easy ways to avail of the tasty and fatty marrow.
Beef Heart and Beef Liver are two other great organ meat healthy alternatives to Oxtail although they do not chare the same fatty / collagen rich characteristics.
BEEF OXTAIL SUMMARY
- Oxtail is the tail of Beef cattle.
- Oval Shape with a bone at the center and surrounded by meat and fat.
- Oxtail is extremely popular in both Europe and Asia. Gaining popularity again in the USA.
- Oxtail is rich in Collagen, a vital protein for our body's growth and repair.
- Oxtail is high in fat so an ideal energy source for a Ketogenic, Paleo, or Carnivore Diet.
- With over 70% fat, Oxtail is Ideal for anyone on a high fat / low carb or no-carb diet.
- Oxtail must be slow-cooked to break down the connective tissue.
- Best suited for braising, stews and soups.
- Slow cooking Oxtail will also produce a delicious broth soup.
- For those new to nose-to-tail eating, Oxtail is a great introductory cut to try.
- Popular Oxtail Recipes/Dishes are Oxtail Soup, Oxtail Stew, Filipino Kare Kare, Korean Kkori Gomtang Oxtail, Jamaican oxtail stew with beans.