My succulent braised oxtail, gently simmered until tender and juicy, is a rustic and comforting meal to cozy up with. Braised low and slow with finely diced vegetables in a rich sauce prepared with red wine, beef stock, and herbs until perfectly shreddable, this braised oxtail is absolutely divine spooned over top of creamy herbed polenta!
Oxtail, Braised to Succulent and Rich Perfection
There are certain cuts of meat that never seem to get the full culinary glory that they deserve, and oxtail is one of those cuts.
Oxtail comes from the portion of a cow that is quite literally the tail, and when cooked properly using a low and slow method such as braising, these meaty, savory cuts become succulent, tender, and juicy, deliciously melting into the sauce.
They have a wonderful beefy flavor and quite a lot of connective tissue, so a nice long braise in a aromatic liquid of red wine, crushed tomatoes, beef stock, vegetables and herbs allows for the meat to slowly tenderize over the course of 2 ½ to 3 hours, yielding a super comforting dish with lots of wonderful meaty sauce.
My favorite way to enjoy braised oxtail is to spoon the shredded meat, along with lots of the rich sauce and the veggies, over top of creamy herb polenta, which reminds me of a traditional bistro-style meal served in a rustic way.
For me, this recipe is perfect to curl up with when my body and soul crave to experience love and nurture through a warming and delicious home cooked meal, one absolutely brimming with rustic gourmet flavors.
My Braised Oxtail Recipe with Creamy Herb Polenta
What I love about braised oxtail is that there's very little “muss and fuss” when it comes to the preparation, because it really is the oven, along with a longer cook time, which do most of the heavy lifting, so to speak.
Cooking with oxtail is just like preparing any tougher form of beef, or other type of meat. They simply need some generous seasoning, a nice, deep searing for added color and flavor, and then some time to slowly tenderize in a rich liquid until falling-from-the-bone tender.
Here's a peek at my braised oxtail recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I liberally season my oxtail, then dust it in a bit of flour, and sear for a few moments on each side. I remove them from my Dutch oven or large, heavy bottom, oven-safe pan.
- Next, I add in my veggies and my aromatics, and once those are softened and fragrant, I add in my tomato paste, then my red wine, crushed tomatoes, and my beef stock, and then nestle into the pot my seared oxtail.
- The pot is placed into the oven and the oxtail is slowly braised for about 2 ½ to 3 hours at a low temp of 325°, until super tender, succulent and shreddable.
- During the last 45 minutes of the oxtail braising, I prepare my creamy herb polenta, and then keep it warm until ready to serve.
- To finish, I remove the tender oxtail from the sauce, then skim the fat from the top. Using a hand-held immersion blender, I pureed the sauce very lightly just to help the veggies break down a little bit. Then, I shred my oxtail and add it back into the sauce.
- I serve the oxtail, with lots of the delicious sauce, spooned over top of the warm, creamy herb polenta.
by Ingrid Beer
This succulent braised oxtail is prepared in a rich sauce of red wine, crushed tomatoes, beef stock and herbs, served over creamy polenta!
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 840 per serving (with about 1 scant cup polenta)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Braised Oxtail Ingredients:
- 3 pounds of oxtail (cut into medium-large pieces)
- Black pepper
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 rib celery, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 tablespoon (heaping) tomato paste
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
- Freshly grated parmesan, for optional garnish
Creamy Herb Polenta Ingredients:
- 5 cups water
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your oxtail ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat the oven to 325°.
- Season the oxtail with a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper, and toss with the flour.
- Place a large, heavy-bottom pan (oven-safe) or Dutch oven over high heat, and add in the oil and the butter; once melted, add in the oxtail, allowing it to brown on the first side for about 4 minutes, then turning over to brown on other side, followed by a little browning on the other sides. Remove from pan.
- Into the the same pan add the onion, carrot and celery, plus a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute those together for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften and take on a little color from the pan. Add in the garlic, the Herbes de Provence and the tarragon, and stir to combine.
- Once aromatic (about 30-45 seconds), add in the tomato paste and stir that in, followed by the red wine. Allow the wine to reduce down for a few minutes until slightly thickened and a bit sticky.
- Add in the beef stock and the crushed tomatoes, and stir to incorporate. Add the browned oxtail back into the Dutch oven, bring to a simmer, cover, and place into the oven to braise for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until tender and easily shredded.
- If preparing the creamy herb polenta, then during the final hour of the oxtail braising, gather and prep all of the polenta ingredients according the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the polenta, add the water to medium pot (non-stick, if possible), along with a good couple of pinches of salt (about 1 teaspoon) and bring to the boil. Then, in an even stream, begin slowly pouring in your polenta, whisking all the while to maintain smoothness, allowing the polenta to begin to thicken up.
- Once it slightly thickens, reduce heat to low, cover, and allow polenta to cook for 45 minutes, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon every 5-10 minutes so that it doesn't stick to the bottom or sides of the pot.
- After 45 minutes, when the polenta is tender and creamy, turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, the parmesan, the black pepper, and the herbs. Check to see if another pinch of salt is necessary (take care not to make it too salty, as the sauce from the braise is savory), and keep covered and warm. (Polenta will thicken up a little more as it sits.)
- Once the oxtail meat is tender, remove the oxtail from the pan and allow to slightly cool on a plate. Skim off as much of the fat that is on top of the sauce as possible, then puree the sauce partially (using a hand-held immersion blender or regular blender).
- Shred the meat (discarding the bone/cartilage and any really fatty pieces) and return back to the pan, tossing to coat in the sauce. Check the seasoning.
- To serve, add polenta to a plate or bowl, and spoon over some of the braised oxtail with sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, and a touch of the freshly grated parmesan, and enjoy.
Tips & Tidbits for my Braised Oxtail:
- Oxtail, cut into smaller pieces: Typically, the butcher/meat department will have pre-packaged or pre-cut oxtail, which is actually quite small and easy to work with. You will need about 3 pounds worth for this recipe.
- A low and slow braise, for tender results: Since oxtail is a tough cut of beef, it needs to cook in a lower temperature oven for an extended period of time. I set the oven to 325°, and allow my oxtail to gently braise for about 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until completely tender and easily shredded.
- Red wine for rich flavor, or leave it out: The red wine really does add a lot of delicious, slightly “bright” flavor to the sauce, which can be quite rich. However, if you prefer to leave out the wine, then just add more beef stock, or a combo of beef stock and additional crushed tomatoes.
- Creamy herb polenta, or your favorite side: The creamy herb polenta is delicious with this braised oxtail, but feel free to serve your own favorite side! Mashed potatoes are terrific, as well as gnocchi, or even roasted potatoes.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2017, and has been updated with even more love!