How to Make a Jamaican-Style Oxtail Stew
Oxtail Stew: A Favorite Jamaican Tradition
Who doesn't savor the rich and spicy style of Jamaican cooking? It's a favorite of many Americans of all cultures. I grew up in a Jamaican-American household with a mixture of authentic Jamaican cuisine and typical American-style dishes.
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, to Jamaican parents who immigrated to the United States in the 1950s and were active members of the "Caribbean Club." So I refer to myself as a "Jahmerican." I was exposed to the many cultural traditions of a Caribbean family, including the amazing flavors of the cuisine.
My mother was known in Buffalo as the premiere beef patty lady. She also made a mean curry chicken and the most perfect pot of rice and peas.
I learned a few things from her about Jamaican-style cooking and offer you one of my favorites: "Jahmerican-style" oxtail stew. To make it right, like most traditional Caribbean dishes, you will need a lot of time. So I suggest trying this on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Enjoy!
A "Jahmerican" is a first generation American of Jamaican descent who remains connected to the traditions of the Caribbean culture, especially the food!
- 2 packages (7 to 8 pieces per package) oxtails, lean, least fatty
- 1 (15-ounce) can Hanover Butter Beans
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 medium carrots, chopped
- 6 to 8 whole Jamaican allspice berries, or 1 tsp of powder
- 6 to 8 whole peppercorns
- Dash each cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, more or less to taste
- 1/4 cup cooking sherry
- 2 Tbsp McCormick Beef Stew Seasoning
- Canola oil
- Wash oxtails thoroughly with water. Season with salt, black pepper, thyme, garlic powder, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover pieces lightly with flour. Using a Dutch oven or large pot, spray with cooking spray and cover bottom with canola oil (about a 1/4 inch). Heat oil, add oxtails and brown on all sides with high heat, turning each individually, while keeping a kettle or pot of boiling water to use during the remainder of cooking.
- After the meat has browned, add hot water and fill to cover oxtails; do not fill the entire pot with water. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for the first hour.
- Add chopped onions, whole Jamaica allspice, and whole peppercorns. Add more water to cover meat; cover and simmer on medium-low heat for the second hour.
- Add chopped carrots. Add more water as needed. Cover and simmer on low heat for the third hour.
- Add butter beans, cover, and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add tomato sauce. Add the mixture of beef stew seasoning and 3 tablespoons of flour with 3/4 cup of water. Stir in for your desired consistency for stew, adding more or less flour and water. Add sherry. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When ready, the meat should be very tender, slightly off the bone. Serve with white rice. Use this recipe as a guide only; season with salt and pepper to your own taste. Monitor heat variations and cooking time durations depending on size and quantity of oxtails.
Oxtail PreparationClick thumbnail to view full-size
Oxtail CookingClick thumbnail to view full-size
As stated above, this recipe serves as a guide. Try it out a few times to achieve the taste and consistency that meet your needs. As you tweak your own version of oxtail stew, consider the following additions:
- For a spicier, hotter flavor, add Scotch Bonnet fresh peppers or hot pepper sauce.
- Add scallion and crushed garlic clove for more flavor.
- Check oxtails for tenderness during the last hour to adjust time needed for further cooking.
- If you can't find allspice berries, substitute ground allspice.
- Add flour dumplings for a heartier meal.
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© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans