Tracing back the history of Spain's best dishes is a way to keep the recipes alive. Oxtail was found in De Re Coquinaria, an ancient Roman cookbook written by Apicius in the first century A.D. However, the recipe we know today dates back to the 19th century in Córdoba, a vibrant city in southern Spain incredible history, architecture, and cuisine.
Bullfighting began in the streets of Córdoba. And once the fight was over, the nobles of the time would keep the most delicate and tender parts of the bull, while the poorer folks were given the cheap cuts like the ears, tripe, and tail.
The tail is a tough cut that has to be cooked down quite a bit to really bring out its flavor. So the people of Córdoba turned the oxtail into savory stew made with wine and sofrito, and converted the tough meat into a tender gelatinous marvel. Full of history, tradition, and flavor, braised oxtail is now celebrated throughout the entire country and enjoyed by all.
How to Make Cordoba Style Oxtail
It may be a bit challenging to get oxtail or bull meat. If you can't find it, look for beef or veal tail. Just keep in mind that the cooking time may need to be adjusted, as ox is tougher than veal, for example.
- 3.25 lbs. oxtail
- 1 large onion
- 3-5 medium carrots
- 1 red or green bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 1 leek
- 1 Bay leaf
- Thyme leaves to taste
- 3 cups red wine
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Marinate the oxtail with salt, pepper, onion, bay leaf, and wine. Let sit for up to 12 hours before cooking.
- Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven.
- Remove the oxtail from the marinade and coat in flour. Brown in the oil, searing on all sides until nice and golden.
- Remove the meat and set aside.
- Add the onion and garlic to the same pot with the remaining oil. Sauté until slightly browned and add the bell pepper and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the leek, bay leaf, and thyme and cook all the veggies until they're soft.
- Add the tomato and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Once cooked, put the oxtail back into the pot, along with the reserved wine marinade.
- Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes with the pot uncovered. Then cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer.
- Cook the stew for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.
- Once cooked, remove the meat from the pot and blend the vegetables until smooth using an immersion blender. Place the oxtail back into the pot and coat with the sauce.
- Serve with your sides of choice, like potatoes or a good hunk of crusty bread.
Tips for Preparing Oxtail More Quickly
A properly tender braised oxtail takes takes a while to prepare. If you're short on time, you can also use a pressure cooker, which is a very common cooking tool in many homes in Spain. In just 45 minutes you can get super tender oxtail. Once the meat is cooked, finish the stew on low heat to reduce the ingredients and soften the meat even further. You can also try out using an InstaPot for similar results.