Oxtail stew is a personal favourite of mine. It’s undoubtedly my go-to order when I’m out for Jamaican food. This spicy version is inspired by the many oxtail stews I’ve eaten throughout Toronto, but incorporates the addition of sweet potato to round it out as a full meal. I also love to serve it alongside some creamy cabbage coleslaw!
The flavours from the allspice, thyme and scotch bonnets marry beautifully together in the spicy broth that is naturally thickened by the collagen-rich oxtails. As the title suggests, this dish is intended to be spicy so if that’s not your thing maybe try dialling back the amount of scotch bonnet in the recipe.
If you’ve never cooked Oxtail before, this just might be the recipe for you. Despite the fact that it takes a very long time to prepare, oxtail is straightforward enough for anyone to follow and is entirely worth the effort. You can also try using oxtail in my mother-in-law’s Romanian beef soup (Ciorba de Vacuta).
I think that the best flavour comes from braising the stew in a Dutch oven. There’s something to be said for doing things the old-fashioned way here. It gives the stew more time to develop in flavour by allowing the sauce to reduce and concentrates. In fact, like most stews, this tastes better the next day after a night of hanging out in the fridge. The tradeoff, of course, is a 4.5 hour cook time.
Can I Make Oxtail Stew in the Instant Pot?
If you would like to speed things up, you can make this in an Instant Pot. If so, you will need to cut the liquid added to the pot by half to account for the fact that the sauce will not reduce under pressure. Cooking time in the Instant Pot is a mere 90 minutes under high pressure. You can always reduce the sauce after the oxtail is done cooking, but this needs to be factored into the total cooking time as well.
Give it a go and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Big, bold, spicy flavours like allspice, scotch bonnets & thyme come together in this delicious & Whole30 Spicy Oxtail Stew with Sweet Potato.
- 6-8 ox tails - approximately 2lbs
- 1 large carrot - diced
- 2 celery stalks – diced
- 1 small yellow onion – diced
- 2 Scotch Bonnet pepper – deseeded and finely chopped while wearing gloves
- 5 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger root - finely chopped
- 2 small sweet potatoes – peeled and cut into 1” cubes
- 1 litre beef stock
- 6-8 sprigs thyme
- 1 tbsp allspice
- 1 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
- kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 3 tbsp Avocado Oil
Heat 2 tbsp avocado oil in a Dutch Oven over med-high heat. Pat oxtails dry with a kitchen towel, season with salt and pepper and, working in batches, brown on all sides (approx. 10-15 min total). Transfer browned oxtail to a plate and set aside.
Preheat oven to 325F.
To the pot, add onion, carrots, celery, scotch bonnets, ginger and garlic. Season with a pinch of salt and cook 2-3 min and scrape off any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Add beef stock, allspice and thyme. Return the oxtails back to the pot – they should be nearly submerged. If required, add stock or water.
Bring liquid to a low boil, cover with a lid and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 4.5 hours stirring once every hour or so.
After 4.5 hours, add in the sweet potato and return to the oven for another 20-25 minutes. The stew is ready when the meat on the oxtails falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Taste stew for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Ladle into individual bowls and serve with a tall glass of water!