When I think of Jamaican food I immediately think of our national dish, ackee and saltfish, fry fish from Hellshire (also known as Escoveitched fish), Jerk Pork from Boston in Portland or Pan Chicken. Then I start to think about things like slurping as I eat a juicy Julie mango, or having some roasted ripe breadfruit that is slightly sweet and drinking a cold coconut with the jelly from the man on the side of the road. Clearly I could go on and on about the things I missed most when I was living abroad but strangely enough whenever someone knew I was Jamaican and liked to cook they would always ask me if I cooked oxtail.
I admit, at first I would scrunch up my face because my memories of oxtail were people sucking on bones loudly after eating gelatinous meat that felt funny in my mouth. However to be fair when people in New York would ask me about cooking oxtail, I hadn’t eaten it myself in about 10 years and I started to think if my taste buds could have changed its feelings towards this dish. We all have those things that we didn’t eat as children but as adults we grow fond of; I used to hate olives now I can wax off a pot of marinated olives, once I would never touch cauliflower and recently I have grown an appreciation for it (especially when baked in a cheese sauce) and I am proud to add oxtail to this list of things my more mature taste buds enjoy.
If you are not familiar with oxtails rest assured I would not steer you wrong. Plus if you like short ribs, you’ll love oxtails because they have more flavour. I wouldn’t eat oxtails from just anyone because to get them tender and addictively delicious is a skill that not everyone has mastered, but when made right the meat is rich and the bones are sweet. I must say there is no way to be dainty while eating oxtail, simply be prepared to get messy and do not waste a thing, your bones should stare at you clean while you think about having just one more piece.
Live, Love, Eat!
- 1kg oxtail, cut into 1” slices
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil,
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 2 scallions (spring onions or green onions), chopped
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger
- 4 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 Scotch Bonnet peppers or more if you like it hotter
- 1.5 L boiling water
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 can cooked broad beans
- Take the scallions, garlic, ginger, thyme and soy sauce into a bowl to make a marinade and mix with the oxtail ensuring it all gets a good coating. Put into a ziplock bag or Tupperware container and refrigerate overnight.
- Heat some oil in a big pot and add the onions, fry until softened then add the pieces of oxtail, scraping as much of the marinade off as you can keeping it to one side.
- Fry the oxtail until browned then add the saved marinade and boiling water or enough to cover all of the meat. Cover and cook on a low heat for 4 hours or until the meat slips off the bone. If you have a pressure cooker, reduce this cooking time to 1 ½ hours.
- When tender, add the can of broad beans and cook until the beans are ready to eat, approximately 5 minutes.
- Serve with white rice or rice and peas.