Oxtails are an underrated cut of meat. When cooked properly, oxtail meat is falling apart tender. This easy oxtail recipe is low-carb, paleo, and whole30. Make these oxtails in your slow cooker or Instant Pot.
What Are Oxtails
Oxtails can be a little bit confusing if you’ve never eaten them before. I am often asked if oxtails are actually made from an ox, and if so then what is an ox? Don’t worry, this cut isn’t some form of mystery meat, and it is enjoyed by many people all over the world because of its richness of flavor. Oxen are actually a breed of cattle that was specially bread to be larger so that it could be used for farm work, so ox is just a fancy term for beef! These oxen cattle aren’t commonly bred anymore because we don’t rely on them to help us do work, and ranchers have focused on other breeds that end up with a better quality of meat for us to eat. The use of oxtail started back when people would raise a cow specifically to feed their family, and they had to make sure that no part of the animal ever went to waste. This cut of meat can be tough, but it does great when you cook them slow like I do in this recipe. They are also known for being incredibly rich and flavorful since oxtails still have the bone in them. They are also great as a year-round meal since they are great at absorbing flavors and pair well with many vegetables.
Why Oxtails Are Good for Slow Cooking
Patience is the name of the game when you are cooking oxtail. Because this cut of beef has bones and cartilage still in it, it’s important to cook them low and slow to make sure they come out tender and flavorful when you are ready to enjoy them. The upside of slow cooking is, the longer you let oxtails sit, the more delicious and flavorful they will become. Some chefs will even say that they taste the best if they are allowed to sit overnight! Oxtails can be a tough cut of meat, but that is also what makes them perfect for slow cooking. Slow heat and patience help oxtails become ultra-tender and bring help infuse the whole dish with the deep richness of bone marrow. The reason that so many bone-in cuts are more flavorful than their boneless counterparts is because the flavor of the bone marrow is released into the dish while cooking. Slow cookers and Instant Pots are especially good at infusing those flavors into the whole dish!
Other beef recipes you might enjoy:
Re-using Leftover Oxtail Meat
I think oxtails just might taste best when I have them as leftovers. The extra time the meat was able to sit with all the other ingredients allows the flavors of the dish to really come together, and once you have that first bite you’ll realize why chefs say that some dishes are best eaten the next day. I have gotten into the habit of purposely making an additional meal or two’s worth of oxtail just so I can warm it up in my slow cooker or Instant Pot in the next day or so for an outrageously delicious and super easy lunch. To use up absolutely everything you’ve made, pour any leftover sauce you might have over zoodles, noodles, or even potatoes for another filling meal. If you have a smaller amount of meat and bones leftover, great use for leftover oxtail is using it to make a delicious Bone Broth that can serve as the foundation of many of your favorite soups and stews this fall.
Leftover oxtails can be stored in any airtight container and will last in your refrigerator for anywhere from three to five days. Since oxtails are usually made into a soup or stew, I recommend getting containers that will be easy to pour liquids into. If your leftover oxtails are well sealed up in an airtight and freezer safe container it can last in your freezer for up to four months. If you choose to freeze your leftovers, make sure you are doing so in a freezer safe container, or else you run the risk of getting freezer burn and then your leftovers will not have that amazing, rich flavor. Whenever you are ready to eat your frozen leftovers, set them out for at least 6-8 hours to thaw, but preferably overnight, or you can take your frozen leftovers and put them in your slow cooker on low for two hours.
- 3 pounds oxtails
- 28 ounces crushed or diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 6 ounces carrots, chopped
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil (for pressure cooker)
- Rinse & pat dry oxtails. Season oxtails generously with salt & pepper to taste
- Add oxtails to the slow cooker. Add carrots, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper on top of oxtails. Pour on balsamic vinegar & crushed or diced tomatoes.
- Cook HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8.
- Turn on the pressure cooker and select sauté. Once hot, add oil and the seasoned oxtails to the pot. Cook 2-4 minutes on each side or on until oxtails are evenly browned. You may have to do this in batches. Remove oxtails.
- Add carrots and onions. Cook 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add garlic & cook an additional minute. Pour in balsamic vinegar & deglaze the bottom of the pressure cooker by scraping all the bits off with a wooden spoon.
- Add oxtails back to the pressure cooker. Pour tomatoes on top.
- Close lid and seal valve. Set high pressure for 40 minutes. When done cooking, let the Instant Pot naturally release the pressure.
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