Jordan’s mother would put the meat on to braise in the morning before church, and when they came back later on in the day, they’d feast on the tender, fall-off-the-bones oxtails and gravy.
“It’s very delicious,” Chef Jordan told Chowhound. “It’s a flavorful, deep, rich, beefy flavor. It takes a little bit of work to get to that richness, but it’s a labor of love and it shows when it’s cooked correctly.”
Foods like oxtail—which is literally the meaty, bony tail of a cow—are part of the historical cultural tradition of African American cooking, borne out of necessity at a time when every part of an animal was used and nothing went to waste. But as oxtails became more mainstream, they also became more expensive.
Case in point: Chef Jordan said when he was starting out in the culinary industry in the Big Apple, he’d snap up some oxtails for a budget-friendly dinner.
“When I was in New York City, I’d see a package of oxtails for like, $10 with some nice pieces in it—I’m grabbing it,” he said, adding that “it used to be affordable, but now it’s a rich item.”
Oxtail, 4 pieces for $14 at Porter Road
And you can find it online if not locally.
These days, the James Beard award winner takes inspiration from the Sunday suppers of his youth by serving the comfort food in his critically acclaimed Seattle restaurant, JuneBaby, where the menu includes “Momma Jordan’s Oxtails” (with king trumpet mushrooms, winter vegetables & consomme). He said he is particularly fond of the once-overlooked cut of meat and likes to sear his oxtails in the broiler before braising them in order to help caramelize the meat and protect the tasty layer of fat surrounding it.
Chef Jordan said although some people will use an Instant Pot or pressure cooker to make oxtails, he recalled his mother’s method of cooking the dish low and slow in the oven or in a Crock-Pot.
Below, a recipe inspired by his recollection of those “old school” oxtails.
“Old School” Oxtails
- One package of oxtails
- Beef stock or water
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic to taste
- Roughly chopped celery, onion, and carrots
- Season the oxtails with salt and pepper and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Place the oxtails in a single layer into the broiler and set it on high until they are browned. If using an Instant Pot or similar pressure cooker, then skip this step.
- Once the the oxtails are brown, remove them from the broiler and toss them along with the vegetables and garlic into the Crock-Pot. Add enough stock or water to barely cover the oxtails and set the Crock-Pot on low and simmer for eight hours or high for four hours.
- Remove the oxtails and strain the stock. Add the stock to a saucepan and simmer over medium high heat to reduce. Add a little bit of flour and fat to thicken it into a sauce if desired.
- Serve the oxtails with rice or with vegetables on the side.
If your appetite is piqued, see even more ways to cook oxtails.
Header image courtesy of Junebaby