I was once invited to a friend’s house and I was mesmerized (this 35 years ago!) that the husband had cooked the meal. I was then presented with braised oxtail, and still looking increduly at the husband, whom I thought must be out of Mars or something, was served a delicious oxtail. BUT… before tasting it, the plate slipped from his hand and I was covered with sauce and meat all over. I cleaned myself and proceeded to eat the oxtail which I thought was delicious. Going back home I told my mother I had loved this oxtail and she looked at me, with a disgusting look, saying “What, dog’s food!” In fact at that time, oxtail was literally given away by the butchers. Well, some years later in Brazil, I had braised oxtail but with watercress, which is typical of Minas Gerais. It’s an amazing combination, because somehow it cut’s the fatty taste. So this is my braised oxtail, which I have never poured down anyone’s clothes! I actually prefer to cook this dish the previous day, allow it to cool so I can remove the excess fat, bring it back to a boil and add the watercress just before serving. —Maria Teresa Jorge
oxtail – I prefer veal tail
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
medium onions chopped medium
garlic cloves chopped finely (remove inner green part)
fresh parsley with stalk, rinsed well
1 1/2 tablespoons
black and white peppercorns
medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and de-seeded
fresh watercress, leaves picked keeping the thin stalks
Cut the oxtail through the joints and remove excess fat. Wash it and pat dry.
Peel and deseed the tomatoes and cut them in pieces. You can also use canned peeled tomatoes.
Chopp the onions and the garlic.
In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, add the olive oil, and brown the oxtail pieces all around. If they don’t fit all at the same time, do it in batches. When all the pieces are browned, add the onion, garlic, parsley with stalk, bay leaves, peppercorns and stir well, allowing the onion to fry a tidbit – just until translucent.
Add the tomato pieces, stir, mix well and bring to a boil. The sauce should cover 3/4 of the height of the meat. Season lightly with salt, put the lid on the pan and lower the heat to the minimum. Let simmer for 3 hours or until the meat is almost falling of the bone, turning the pieces of meat from time to time and stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
Meanwhile, wash your watercress – yes 2 bunches, I didn’t make a mistake, pick the leaves with the thinner stems and put them in cold water and wash thoroughly. Drain and set aside covered with a kitchen tea towel.
When ready to serve, literally at the last minute, remove any excess fat that is on the surface. Add the watercress to the simmering sauce, stir, turn of the heat and allow to rest 5 minutes.
Serve immediately with boiled potatoes or soft polenta.