Slow cooked oxtails with rice & peas has to be one of my favourite Jamaican dishes & one I can’t get enough of. For this recipe I tried to make it as authentic as I could with a few twists of my own! Once I had decided I was going to make this I made a list and headed to my local afro-Caribbean store to buy to ingriedients.
2 onions, chopped
2 scotch bonnets, green and red, chopped (remove seeds to lessen heat).
1 maggi or knorr seasoning cube
2 tablespoons browning
3-4 spring onions, chopped
Sprigs of fresh thyme
1litre beef stock
1 tablepoon garlic & ginger paste (can be found in afro-carribbean store)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon River Dun’s Jerk Paste
1 can butter beans
Salt & black pepper
Bicarbonate soda [I know, but this is a cheat way for tenderising the meat if you do not have a slow or pressure cooker]
2 plantains – extra soft 😉
A little story: A day prior I’d decided to defrost some oxtails I found in the freezer to add to the new batch I was going to cook so it didn’t waste. Once the meat had defrosted I cooked it in some water with bay leaves and just brown sugar. Without realising how time went the fire alarm began to go off. The meat had cooked down, the water evaporated and the oxtails began to burn at the bottom. I was gutted as I thought I had wasted them and scarily enough (even though I was present in the kitchen at the time) I was too engrossed in washing and cleaning to turn the oxtails off as it cooked down. The oxtails has burnt with charred bits at the bottom of the pot. I decided to keep these semi-burnt oxtails in a bag in the fridge until I figured out what to do with them. When I cooked this new batch of oxtails I added about 3 pieces to the oxtail sauce and was amazed at how it gave the sauce an amazing smoky flavour!!!
I did take it out though as I feared it would make the sauce bitter but leaving it to simmer in the sauce for a few minutes gave my sauce a completely different dimension. So I’m not recommending burning oxtails to get this (ok maybe I am) maybe on a bbq but as it really worked & goes to show sometimes little mistakes when cooking can actually lead to something! But that being said It’s very important to please pay attention & not like me at the time as it’s dangerous if food is left unattended.
But yes, here is how to make the oxtails:
I start by washing my oxtails, then pat dry with a tea towel. I began prepping them when I returned from the store so they were already at room temperature which is important as cold meat doesn’t cook evenly compared to when it’s at room temperature ! Once my oxtails where cleaned I began to season ever so generously with the following:
Salt, black pepper, brown sugar, garlic & ginger paste, Maggi cube, Dunn’s jerk paste (feel like this adds a nice dimension to the sauce) scotch bonnets, thyme, browning, onions & spring onions.
Note: I usually add onions last as I want the seasoning to get to the meat first. Often times I add onions first but sometimes the seasonings just lay on them without actually getting to the meat.
Scotch bonnets add a floral note to the dish along with the heat, but the hot sauce adds another dimension I think, but this too is optional.
Once I’ve seasoned my oxtails I tend to marinate overnight or for several hours before cooking just so those flavours can really penetrate.
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
I don’t have a pressure or slow cooker so I usually cook my oxtails in a cast iron pot or my trustee ceramic pot which is great for slow cooking! the trick is to add about a 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate soda to the oxtail to start the tenderising process when it’s cooking. I recently tried this and it worked!
- In a hot pan I shallow fry my oxtails on both sides for several minutes until they are browned/caramelised. The caramelisation is also helped with the use of brown sugar. I then proceed to pour the remaining seasoning from the bowl where the oxtails was marinating in, into the pot. I then add 1 litre of stock, bicarbonate soda (to tendersise the meat) and cook the oxtails on medium to low heat for over an hour.
- During the cooking process, I ensure I check on it regularly just to ensure the liquid doesn’t reduce entirely and if it does I just add more stock! I also like to taste along the way adjusting the seasoning to see what it needs whether it’s salt, more jerk paste, stock, browning and so forth but please do feel free to adjust to your preference. What you’re looking for is a balance of flavours and tender oxtails. Within the last 15 minutes I then add my butter beans, I do this so they do not overcook with the oxtails.
- Once your oxtails have cooked until tender for over an hour you can begin your plantains and rice. I have a recipe here for my sweet plantains which go down a hit everytime. As for the rice and peas I’m using basmati rice which I wash and soak for about 20minutes before cooking.
Rice & peas:
2 cups of basmati rice
1 can of coconut milk
1 can red kidney beans
1 spring onion / scallion
1 whole scotch bonnet
2-3 sprigs of thyme
Salt & white pepper
*Foil or Cling film is needed to cook rice
Simmer coconut milk for a few minutes, add pinch of salt, white pepper, thyme, spring onions, 1 whole scotch bonnet and then your washed rice. Cook on high heat for about 3-4 minutes then turn down and cook for remaining 5 add 1 can of red kidney beans (drain a little bit of a the liquid not all prior to adding to the pot), stir lightly with a fork and cover with cling film or foil and simmer until the liquid has soaked evaporated. Stir lightly with a fork and serve with plantains and oxtail.
There you have it my loves!