This is my other half’s favourite dish. He loves it so much that I made it for him for Valentine’s Day, which is quite fitting as the preparation is a bit of a labour of love – but it is absolutely worth it. The result is tender flavoursome meat that falls off the bone, and a rich savoury gravy. Once the prep is out of the way the cooking is super easy – pretty much bung the rest of the ingredients in a pan and leave it to stew, which makes it ideal dish to make for a Sunday dinner.
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(see below for full list of ingredients)
- Oxtail: This is a flavoursome cut of meat that becomes really soft and tender as it is stewed.
- Thyme: A staple herb in Jamaican cooking. It adds an earthy flavour.
- Spring Onions: Adds savouriness to the gravy.
- Pimento/All Spice: Pimento berries add a sweet cinnamon/nutmeg/clove flavour, hence its alternative name “all spice”. This is another staple in Jamaican cooking
- Brown Sugar and Browning: Browning the meat prior to stewing it is a vital step to making this dish. The meat won’t taste the same unless it is browned off first. I use brown sugar and Sarson’s Browning for this. The brown sugar caramelises and adds to the deep flavours of the meat. And the Browning adds a deep brown colour to the meat.
How To Make Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans
Step One: Place 2 kg cleaned trimmed oxtail in a large mixing bowl (see the “Tips…” section below on how to clean the meat). Add 75 g brown sugar, 1.5 tbsp soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp salt, 3 tsp garlic powder, 1.5 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp all spice and 1.5 tsp browning and mix well. You can use tongs to mix the meat, but I prefer to put on some food safe disposable gloves and work the seasoning into the meat by hand. Leave to marinade for around 20-30 minutes whilst you prepare the remaining vegetables for the dish.
Step Two: In a frying pan or deep casserole dish heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil on a high heat. Brown the seasoned oxtails for 2-3 minutes on each side. Do not over crowd the pan. Brown in batches if necessary.
Step Three: If using a casserole dish, remove some of the oil and any burnt parts from the dish first, otherwise in a large sauce pan add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and heat on a medium heat. Add 2 chopped medium onions and fry for around 5 minutes until they have softened.
Step Four: Add in 5 cloves of minced garlic, 6 stalks of finely chopped spring onions, 3 carrots sliced, 4 pimento berries, 1.5 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce, 1.5 tbsp ketchup, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 crushed cubes of reduced salt Beef Oxo, 350 ml water and the browned oxtails. Mix together and bring to a simmer.
Step Five: Simmer with the lid on for 3 – 3.5 hours until the meat is soft enough for your liking – I like my meat super soft and almost falling off the bone. Check the pot every 20-30 minutes to ensure that the pot hasn’t dried out. And turn the meat over after the first 90 minutes.
Step Six: Once the meat is soft add in two 400 g cans of drained tinned butter beans and stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
How To Serve Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans
- Serve with a side of rice and peas or plain steamed rice, and healthier coleslaw.
Tips for Making Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans
- Clean the oxtail with water and vinegar rinse (this is a traditional Caribbean way of cleaning meat). To do this add the oxtail to a large mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water to rinse the meat. Add around 100 ml white vinegar to the meat and top the bowl up with water so that the meat is submerged. Set aside for around 5 minutes before pouring out the water.
- Do not skip browning the meat. It really adds flavour to the dish. Traditionally a cast iron dutch pan is used for the browning and the stewing, but you could also use a good quality deep casserole dish. Just remove some of the oil and any brown/black residue (“fond”) at the bottom of the pan after the browning process.
- During the stewing process be sure to check your pot every 20-30 minutes to ensure that it hasn’t dried out.
- Turn the meat over after the first hour and a half of the stewing process to ensure even cooking.
Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans Recipe
3 hrs 40 mins
- 2 kg oxtails (the fat should be trimmed off and they should be rinsed in water and white vinegar – see the “Tips…” section above)
- 75 g brown sugar
- 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp all spice
- 1.5 tsp browning (I use Sarson’s)
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 6 spring onion stalks finely chopped
- 3 carrots sliced
- 4 pimento berries (I use Dunn’s River)
- 1.5 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce (I use Walkerswood)
- 1.5 tbsp ketchup
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 reduced salt beef Oxo cubes (crushed)
- 350 ml water
- Add the oxtails to a large mixing bowl and add in the sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, all spice and browning and mix together. Leave to sit for around 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
- Add 2 tbsp of the oil to a non-stick frying pan or deep casserole dish and heat over a high heat. Brown the oxtails in batches for around 2 – 3 minutes on each of the sides. Do not over crowd the pan. Set the browned oxtails aside.
- If using a casserole dish, remove some of the oil and any burnt parts from the dish first, otherwise in a large sauce pan heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for around 5 minutes until they have softened.
- Add in the garlic, spring onion, carrots, pimento berries, pepper sauce, ketchup, thyme, Oxo cubes, water and the browned oxtails. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
- Cover and leave to stew for 3 to 3.5 hours. Check the pot every 20 – 30 minutes to ensure it hasn’t dried up, and turn the meat after the first 90 minutes.
- Once the meat is as tender as you like it add in the butter beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve with rice and peas or steamed rice and healthier coleslaw.