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Oxtail question - how long to cook

Currently thumbing through and enjoying a borrowed copy of "Appetite" by Nigel Slater. He braises a jointed oxtail with some vegetables and a cupful of wine in his oven at 160C (low oven, about 310F I think?), and says it should take two hours.

Now, my experience with oxtail (from Zuni Cafe cookbook) is that oxtail really takes four hours to cook, best even spread over two days, to really break down that glutinous tissue and get them meltingly soft.

Has anyone done this closer to the times suggested by Slater? Or is it impossible to get it really tender in less than roughly four hours in the oven?

Thanks!

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  1. I'd stick with what you already know. The meat will certainly be cooked in the two hours your recipe says, but a good braise gets to "done" and keeps on going to "melt"! There is the possibility that Mr. Slater simply likes his meat a bit chewy. I don't thing spreading it out over two days is necessary, but I certainly admire the attitude behind that.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      My favorite oxtail stew recipe calls for braising for 3 hrs, add veggies and cook for another hour. Comes out very tender. Once in awhile, an oxtail will just not get tender, no matter how long it's been cooked -- frustrating and mysterious!

      1. re: Will Owen

        Ideally I cook oxtail till the cartilage caps come off the ends of the bones. Also the meat should come off cleanly, leaving very little behind.

      2. It depends on the batch of oxtails you get. I've gotten some that cooked up in.. 4 hours sounds about right, and some that never tenderized. Same recipe and cooking method each time. It's quite annoying.

        1. Thanks for the feedback everyone. Oxtail is clearly a bit of a dark art! And best left for weekends, when I can give them the four hours they deserve.

          1. I always cook it over a period of 2 days. The first day is a quick cook. Then, I let it cool overnight in the fridge. And the next day I skim the excess fat off of the liquid and braise it for 2 hours. I think it's the cooling and cooking again is what does the trick for me. It doesn't take more time, just more planning ahead... and I never had a problem with tenderization

            1. OK, finally made oxtail (with oxtail I bought at good old fashioned oxtail prices i.e. not costing the same as steak by weight!). A new stove, slightly fiercer than my old one meant the oxtail simmered a bit harder than I'd like - and was done sooner. But 'sooner' still was 3 1/2 hours! So delicious, served with buttered tagliatelle. 2 good sized tails braised with lots of chunky veg (Carrots, baby onions, etc) fed 5.