Braised Oxtail with Watercress

January 21, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 4 pounds oxtail – I prefer veal tail
  • 5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped medium
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped finely (remove inner green part)
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley with stalk, rinsed well
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black and white peppercorns
  • 6 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled and de-seeded
  • salt
  • 2 bunches fresh watercress, leaves picked keeping the thin stalks
  1. Cut the oxtail through the joints and remove excess fat. Wash it and pat dry.
  2. Peel and deseed the tomatoes and cut them in pieces. You can also use canned peeled tomatoes.
  3. Chopp the onions and the garlic.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Serve immediately with boiled potatoes or soft polenta.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Patti Kim
    Patti Kim
  • marble
  • Maria Teresa Jorge
    Maria Teresa Jorge

3 Reviews

Patti K. January 23, 2013
I love oxtails and been looking for a good recipe. I hope to try out your recipe but I don't see you adding additional liquid to make the sauce. Adding tomato pieces enough to cover 3/4 of the height of the meat?
marble April 19, 2011
I just found some veal tails at the local supermarket and was looking for a way to use them. This recipe, though simple, was really great and didn't need any help from wine to create great flavor. I agree with the thought that veal tail is better for this than oxtail for this, much more delicate and less fatty. I made the full recipe, so I will freeze the rest, but it won't be long before I pull out another portion.
Maria T. April 20, 2011
Hi Marble, thanks for your note. I'm so glad you liked the recipe. It freezes very well and you won't be disapointed when defrosting it.