Jamaicans are all about making obscenely large amounts of food and feeding their friends and family. This extravaganza typically happens every Sunday! The delicious insanity!
I’ve been Jamaican for quite some time now, however I was not raised on the deliciousness that is oxtails. I was raised by a Rastafarian father who kept us on a strict diet of no meat (we ate a lot of fish). Before you all get into some kind of uproar, I would totally put my children on the same diet. The first 19 years of my life were my absolute healthiest. I digress, not growing up around oxtail did nothing to erase my curiosity for this meat. The first time I had it was pretty similar to that of James Wright and his Patti Pie. Just swap out the singing for a nice reggae riddim and some dancehall moves and it’s pretty much the same.
I decided to share my recipe for the meal with you all so that you too may rejoice in the delicious, savory, robust flavors of Jamaican Oxtail with Rice & Peas. *Insert overjoyed emojis here*
3-4 pounds of oxtail, fat trimmed
1 bunch of green onions
1 medium sweet onion
1 scotch bonnet pepper (optional, but sooo good!)
Whole allspice berries (pimento seeds)
Red chili flakes
Worcestershire sauce (or browning)
Coconut milk rice & peas recipe (below)
Let’s Get Cooking!
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I don’t have measurements for the ingredients. That’s because this dish requires anabundance of flavor and seasoning but you’re more than welcome to tweak it to your tastes.
Make sure that you have as little fat as possible on the oxtail. Rinse, drain and then pat dry. Put aside.
Halve and then chop onions (green ones too!) Peel and chop ginger and garlic.
Heavily season with all-purpose seasoning, chili flakes, salt & pepper. (Don’t overdo the salt if your all-purpose already has tons of sodium) Massage into meat. Add chopped veggies, a few sprigs of thyme, 2 tablespoons each of soy and Worcestershire sauces and massage a little more. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (I suggest overnight)
Add 4 tablespoons of brown sugar to a thick bottomed pot, a traditional Jamaican “dutchie” or enameled cast iron casserole pot will work fine. You want the sugar to burn. It shouldn’t become hard though so keep an eye on it. Once the sugar is as dark as possible, begin to add oxtail to the pan in batches. Try not to add the onions. Those come in later.
Brown meat and coat in burned brown sugar. Once all meat is browned, add half the onions to the pot and stir.
Here’s the deal with the next step, reduce to low heat and let it simmer, adding water whenever necessary. The more water you add, the more soupy the meal becomes. If you are looking to have the meat shine through the sauce don’t fully submerge the meat in water. Add in 1/4-1/2 cup increments. Cover with a lid. After 1 hour of simmering, add remainder of onions. Simmer for another 1-3 hours depending on how tender you like it. I like them very tender.
15 minutes before you plan on taking it off, drain and add a can on lima (butter) beans. This step is optional but very traditional and equally delicious.
Serve over rice and peas with salad or avocado.
Coconut Milk Rice & Peas
1/2 cup red kidney beans
1 can of coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove
2 sprigs of thyme
2 cups jasmine rice
Soak beans in water for at least 3 hours to over night if possible. We need these to soften.
Bring water, coconut milk, thyme garlic to boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir in rice, cover tightly and let cool for 20-25 minutes.
Remove garlic and time, stir and serve.