Soulful Smothered Oxtails

Soulful Smothered Oxtails: A Comforting Southern Delicacy

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Dive into the rich, comforting flavors of smothered oxtails, a beloved Southern dish that warms the soul with every tender bite. This recipe transforms humble oxtails into a hearty, flavorful meal that’s perfect for cozy family dinners or special occasions. With a few simple ingredients and a little patience, you can create a dish that’s sure to impress. Let’s embark on a culinary journey and explore the art of smothered oxtails!


  • 3 pounds oxtail
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef bouillon
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour for thickening
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Season the Oxtails: Season the oxtails generously with salt and pepper on all sides.
  2. Sear the Oxtails: Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Sear the oxtails until browned on all sides, working in batches if necessary. This step adds flavor and creates a rich, caramelized crust.
  3. Saute Aromatics: Add chopped onion, garlic, carrots, and celery to the pot. Saute until vegetables are softened and aromatic, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add Flavorings: Stir in tomato paste, bay leaves, dried thyme, dried rosemary, and paprika. Cook for another 1-2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.
  5. Deglaze: Pour in red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Allow the wine to reduce slightly, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Braise the Oxtails: Return the seared oxtails to the pot. Add beef bouillon until the oxtails are submerged. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover the pot with a lid.
  7. Simmer: Reduce the heat to low and let the oxtails simmer gently for 2-3 hours, or until they are tender and falling off the bone.
  8. Thicken the Sauce: In a small bowl, mix all-purpose flour with enough water to create a slurry. Stir the slurry into the simmering liquid until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
  9. Garnish and Serve: Once the oxtails are cooked and the sauce is thickened, remove the bay leaves. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired. Serve the smothered oxtails hot over rice, mashed potatoes, or your favorite side dish.

Cook’s Notes and Variations:

  • Slow Cooker Method: Instead of simmering on the stovetop, you can transfer the oxtails and sauce to a slow cooker after browning. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until tender.
  • Additional Vegetables: Feel free to add other vegetables like bell peppers, potatoes, or mushrooms for added flavor and texture.
  • Extra Flavorings: Enhance the depth of flavor by adding Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, or a splash of soy sauce to the sauce.
  • Make-Ahead: This dish tastes even better the next day, so feel free to make it ahead of time and reheat before serving.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

  • Keto: To make this dish keto-friendly, omit the flour for thickening or use a low-carb thickener like xanthan gum. Serve the oxtails with cauliflower mash or roasted vegetables instead of traditional starches.
  • Low-Carb: Similarly, for a low-carb version, skip the flour and serve the oxtails with low-carb sides like steamed broccoli, sauteed spinach, or cauliflower rice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Where can I find oxtails? A: Oxtails are commonly available at butcher shops, specialty meat markets, or well-stocked grocery stores. You may need to request them from the butcher as they may not always be on display.

Q: Can I use a different cut of meat? A: While oxtails are traditional for this recipe, you can substitute with beef short ribs or beef chuck roast if desired. Adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the cut of meat used.

Q: How do I know when the oxtails are done? A: The oxtails are done when the meat is fork-tender and easily falls off the bone. You can also taste a small piece to ensure it’s cooked to your liking.

Q: Can I freeze leftovers? A: Yes, you can freeze leftover smothered oxtails in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Savor the rich, comforting flavors of smothered oxtails with this classic recipe. Whether enjoyed as a hearty family meal or served at a special gathering, this dish is sure to impress with its tender meat and flavorful sauce. With a few simple ingredients and a little time, you can create a soul-warming dish that’s bound to become a new favorite in your repertoire. So roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and get ready to enjoy the heartiness and homeliness of smothered oxtails!

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