This is ragu depends on cooking the meat first, low and slow, with the same aromatic vegetables that will go into the base. The meat is then shredded, folded in, and cooked just long enough to amalgamate. —Sara Jenkins
6 to 8
3 to 4 pounds
oxtail, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
small onions, divided
celery stalks, divided
Italian double concentrate tomato paste, divided
Heat the oven to 250° F. Get out a heavy enameled cast-iron pan and warm it over high heat. Pat the oxtail dry and season liberally with salt and pepper.
Add the olive oil to the pan and add the oxtail one at a time in a single layer, working in batches if necessary. Brown each oxtail on either side, about 6 to 8 minutes a side. When all the oxtail is browned, drain the fat from the pan and set the meat aside.
Add 1 chopped onion, 4 chopped carrots, and 4 chopped stalks of celery to the pan and lower the heat to medium. Let them brown and wilt for a few minutes in the oil, then add one tablespoon of tomato paste and let cook 5 to 6 more minutes.
Add the oxtail, garlic halves, and the red wine and bring to a boil. If the wine doesn't cover the meat, add water until the meat is covered. When the wine is boiling, scrape the browned bits up off the bottom of the pan.
Reduce heat and braise in the 250° F oven for 3 to 4 hours, until falling apart tender.
Meanwhile, take the remaining carrots (2), celery (2), and onion (1), and the herbs and parsley and chop finely in a food processor.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat in a large Dutch oven-type pan. Sauté the chopped vegetables and herbs in the oil. After 7 to 8 minutes, when the onions start to get translucent, add 3/4 cup of water to the pan and dissolve the remaining tablespoon of tomato paste in it. Let cook until all the liquid is reduced and the vegetables are practically dissolved.
Add the can of San Marzano tomatoes and break up with a fork, wooden spoon, or potato masher. Let this simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, then reserve for the oxtail.
When the oxtail is done, filter off all the cooking liquid and let it separate. Then remove the fat that rises to the top layer as completely as you can. Add the filtered liquid to the cooking vegetables and tomatoes and bring to a simmer. When the oxtail is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off and add it to the pot of vegetables, tomatoes, and cooking liquid.
Simmer everything together until all the elements are amalgamated and the juices have reduced to a slightly syrupy consistency just rich enough to coat a pasta noodle, 20 to 35 minutes. At this point, the ragu can be eaten immediately or refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months.