Rabo de Toro: Spanish Style Oxtail Stew

Date February 29, 2008 at 11:00 PM

Categories Food

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This recipe for a robust, wintry stew utilizes the rich-and often overlooked-oxtail. The dish cooks slowly for hours without fuss, allowing the marrow to break down, and yielding a meltingly succulent stew. My friend Emma, who's from England originally, stirs in a can of Heinz baked beans before serving. The beans add a nice texture contrast to the tender meat. Serve this with some small potatoes, steamed to softness and sprinkled with parsley.

  • 4 1/2 to 5 pounds meaty oxtails
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Flour, for dusting the oxtails
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, diced
  • 1 small leek, white part only, rinsed and sliced
  • 4 to 5 oz. cremini or portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 cups full bodied red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped, with their juice

Place the oxtails in a bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread a layer of flour on a plate and, working in batches, dust the oxtails with the flour.

Heat 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil in a heavy 5- to 6-quart casserole over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the oxtails all over until richly browned, 8 to 10 minutes per batch, transferring the browned oxtails to a large bowl.

Add 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil and the onion, garlic, carrots, leeks and mushrooms to the casserole. Cook until softened and browned, about 7 minutes, adding the remaining oil and adjusting the heat if needed. Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds. Add the brandy, scraping the bottom of the casserole to dislodge the brown bits. Add the bay leaf, thyme, 2 cups wine, chicken stock and tomatoes and bring to a boil, skimming any foam off the surface. Season with salt, and return the oxtails and their juices to the casserole. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and simmer until oxtails are very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. (The stew can be prepared to this point a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.)

Skim as much fat as possible off the top of the stew, then reheat slowly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the oxtails to a bowl. Add remaining 1/2 cup wine to the stew, increase the heat to high, and cook until nicely thickened, 15 minutes. Return oxtails to casserole, and cook until heated through, 2 minutes.

From Anya von Bremzen, The New Spanish Table (New York: Workman, 2005.)

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