February 13, 2009

Oxtail Ragu

I wanted to make an oxtail ragu, but heck, I didn't even know what a ragu was and I really wasn't sure what an oxtail was, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.

Oh yeah. Easy, huh? Oxtail... A tail from an ox. But what is an ox? I mean, really.

Come to find out an ox is a castrated bull. Wait, I thought a castrated bull was a steer!

Well, it is.


Okay, here's the scoop. A steer is a castrated bull that is under four years old. At the age of four, the steer becomes an ox.

Well, he might not become an ox, but after the age of four years he's referred to as an ox.

I guess it's kind of like: child, teen, adult.


Without the castration thing going on.

Ragù is an Italian term for a sauce that is meat-based. Traditionally, a ragu is served with pasta.

A ragù is usually made by adding meat (in this case, oxtail) to a soffritto (a mixture of chopped onions, ,celery and carrots), which is simmered for a long time with a little tomato sauce.
Finely chop the vegetables for the soffritto: parsnips, carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Saute in olive oil. Add wine and tomato paste.
Soak the oxtail in salted water, drain and boil for 10 minutes in clean water. Drain and dry the oxtail. Brown the oxtail in olive oil. Add the oxtail to the soffritto and simmer for 4 to 5 hours.
Remove the oxtail, let cool and remove meat from bones. There is a fair amount of fat here; likewise, there is a surprising amount of meat. Separate the broth from the veggies and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove the layer of fat from the meat. Put the soffritto in a processor and pulse until combined.
When you're ready to serve, add the soffritto and meat into the broth and heat through. Serve over pasta of your choice topped with shaved parmesan.

The vegetables, wine, garlic, oxtail and the long cooking time made for an amazing flavor in this dish and the gravy it produced was heaven on a plate!

My recipe
was adapted from Matt at Wrightfood.


  1. NOW I know the difference between a bull, an ox, and a steer! This has been keeping me up nights wondering about it--not! LOL. I love the way you've plated your Oxtail Ragu; it's gorgeous. There's an award for you on my Cookbook Cuisine blog. :)

  2. Never had oxtail before but I've always wanted to try it! This looks great.

  3. hey, you learn something new everyday! Now I get to be the smart one who knows the difference between and ox and a steer :)

  4. Wonderful job with the oxtail and the photo turned out really good...keep it up!

  5. Thanks for the steer lesson! I was born in the year of the Ox so its good to know what one is (this year is an Ox year too :)

    That gravy/ragu looks involved but I bet the flavors really melt into each other after so much time cooking. Yum!

  6. I've never found oxtail at my grocery store, but I wish I could. That looks really good!

  7. Hi Karen :)

    That looks so interesting!

    I loved the recipe cards your daughter wrote through the years... so cute :)

    Happy Valentine's Day!

  8. Very interesting! Glad you enjoyed it! Happy V-day!

  9. How cool that after your adventurous foray into the world of oxen you ended up with heaven on a plate!

  10. That ragu looks so good! I have not used oxtails before.

  11. Without the castration thing going on.


    You did a marvelous job here Karen. I see oxtail ragu from time to time on blogs, but I also have never cooked with that particular meat. You make it sound really good.

  12. Karen, you're a woman after my own heart!

    I actually prefer oxtail stew to traditional beef stew, it's so rich and delicious. That's the only kind of stew my family would ever make.

    I've never tried Oxtail Ragu (but it looks similar to the way I do it.) I haven't had oxtails in a long, long time ~ but I hope to try your recipe before long. Looks fantatic! xo~m.

  13. I adore oxtail, it's one of my absolute favourite foods. This looks really delicious, great post!


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