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Jul 19, 2011 05:34 PM

Jamaican Oxtail Stew with or without coconut milk.

I've got a killer batch of oxtails simmering away. It's rich with scotch bonnets, fresh thyme, ginger and allspice. I got a great sear on the meat and the colour is great. I want a thicker gravy though, and I may use some roux or some really thick coconut milk.
I am worried that the coconut may kill my very traditional flavour.
What is the consensus? Is coconut milk ok?
Please chime in.

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  1. No, no coconut, and it will change the flavor from traditional to new age. Add some precooked butter (broad, fava or even lima) beans at the end and heat through; they'll serve to thicken the stew a bit. Even a few tablespoons of beurre manie (butter and flour kneaded together) and added towards the end of cooking will tighten up your gravy. Even a cornstarch slurry will work, and is probably more traditional than butter/flour. The gravy should not be too thick. This dish is a bit more soupy than an American beef stew.

    1. No, don't. arrowroot,cornstarch,cassava meal or even some flour will do the trick.spoon out 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid,stir in thickener and stir back into pot slowly.

      1. Thank you both.
        I went with a roux as I wanted the toasty flour taste I would have got if I dredged the meat in flour before browning, which i didn't as i wanted a deep sear on the meat and flour would have burnt.
        I do have cassava flour and will try it some time.
        I passed on the lima beans only because I made peas n rice with green field (pigeon) peas and had long green beans as a side.
        This was my best batch of oxtails in a long time, my guests were happy too.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Da_Cook

          That's great,now the pigeon peas you can boil down with the coconut milk and some salted pigtail, I usually float a scotch bonnet on top for taste not heat and 2 sprigs of culantro and thyme.

          1. re: Duppie

            I must confess that my peas n rice recipe is Bahamian not Jamaican. The Jamaicans use red beans don't they?
            My recipe uses salt pork, pigeon peas, onion, tomato paste, thyme and black tea for the stock.
            Your peas recipe, is it a side dish? I can get a pigs tail easy and I'll salt it along side my next batch of salt pork.
            What other vegetables would be served with oxtail? I can get plantains but I was thinking of some greens, etc...

            1. re: Da_Cook

              Usually oxtail is just served with rice and peas, but fried plantain strips are good and for a green veg, callaloo would be it; substitute spinach, Swiss chard, even collards, or a mix of your favorite greens if callaloo is not available. Stew the greens with a little salt pork, onion, garlic, water and a scotch bonnet, until tender.

              Coconut cream is good in this dish but that's not really Jamaican style.

              1. re: Da_Cook

                Our housekeeper growing up was Jamaican and I wouldn't leave her alone in the kitchen, that's where I learned West Indian cooking,her husband was Trinidadian and a fantastic cook also,so there was a lot of cross pollination at the dinner table. Pigeon peas was a Trini,Bajan and Jamaican thing especially with the grated coconut ,milk and salted pigtail,Other side dishes was Cassava boiled in coconut milk,let stand and then pan fried in ghee,Calaoo with okra and salt pork,Salt cod fried dry with spinach.
                Taking a page from TT stewed chicken is to brown a tablespoon of sugar in oil and wait until it caramelizes before browning your seasoned ox tails,I really get a great sear and color on the tails and while not traditional,It lends another dimension to the stew.

                1. re: Duppie

                  Hey Duppie, thanks for the reply.
                  What a laugh, as not only did I grow up with a Jamaican housekeeper too, I wrote about her on my blog:
                  I would, in hindsight, add more allspice to the recipe for curried goat.
                  I also was a regular customer at Bacchus Roti Shop on Queen St. West in Toronto. Before she died, old Granny Bacchus taught me many Trinidadian recipes. They were the first to serve boneless goat rotis, so cab drivers could eat them as they drove.
                  Finally both my wife and I frequented he bahamas as kids so we are partial to that Island's cuisine too.
                  What a mix!
                  I'm gonna make the pigeon peas as I can get them fresh/frozen at the Mexican market in Vancouver.

                  1. re: Da_Cook

                    That's great, Lidia's Trini husband taught me to "Bush cook" in South Florida. Curry goat,Conch,Grouper,shrimp and every once in a while ,Iguana on a open fire and roti skins on a tawa over a coal pot. My pepper sauce recipe is a modified version of Lidia's. What wonderful people,culture and cuisine.

            2. re: Da_Cook

              Sounds delicious! Care to share your recipe? I love me some good jamaican oxtail mon.

            3. I've never had Jamaican oxtail with coconut milk. I say it's overkill - the oxtail is so fatty already that i don't think coconut milk would do anything positive for the dish. Skip and go with a traditional thickener if necessary.