Trinidadian Mom–Approved Braised Oxtail (With A Hint of Rum)

June 15, 2017

Growing up in Trinidad, we had large family gatherings at our house every weekend. Oxtail was always on the menu alongside other traditional Trinidadian dishes like callaloo, pigeon peas and rice, macaroni pie, fried plantains, and stewed cabbage. Whenever my mom would make it, the deep, rich aroma of slow-cooked meat braised with tomatoes, onions, and aromatics permeated the entire house. I followed her every step hungrily and with great anticipation. It’s a food memory I think of often, and one that I enjoy recreating.

Oxtail is cut from the tail of the steer, as the name implies. Each piece has a section of tailbone with a marrow center that gives it a deeply beefy taste—like short ribs, only richer. Similar to other tough cuts, like shank, oxtail needs to be cooked for a long time to be tender, but when it is, it falls off the bone. Also like other tough cuts, oxtail was traditionally cheap and regularly available, so it became a staple in economically depressed communities all throughout the Caribbean.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Though it hasn't quite made its way into the kitchen of every home cook, in the last couple of years, oxtail has gained some traction in the culinary world, with James Beard award–winning chefs like Ken Oringer, Nancy Silverton, and Mario Batali featuring it on their menus. While newfound popularity makes it more expensive and harder to come by, you can still find decently-priced oxtail at Costco or specialty ethnic food stores.

Shop the Story

On my last trip home, I teamed up with my mom to recreate one of my all time favorite oxtail dishes, braised with butter beans and served over rice. Of course it was as good as I remember, but you’ll only believe me if you make it yourself.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

I am a former music exec, turned food blogger/cook/culinary lifestyle photographer. My blog Mas Appetit is a hub for Pavlovian-worthy food photos, recipes, and other culinary lifestyle content.

1 Comment

Pamela F. November 14, 2018
I had a friend back in the70’s from St. Vincent. She made the most delicious oxtail. She first blackened them with sugar. Would anyone have a recipe that would call for this, with nothing else in the end other then oxtail stewed?