Jan 19, 2021

Braised Oxtail Ragu with Chile Gremolata

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs 30 mins
This recipe is based on a dish I had years ago at Chef Roy Choi’s now closed restaurant, Sunny Spot, in Venice, California years ago.

It was one of the first dishes that I had eaten using oxtails and if you know me then you know I love any type of braised meat dishes. Here the succulent spiced red wine braised beef ragù is paired with bitter mustard greens and a zesty chile gremolata served over pasta.

If you are unfamiliar with oxtails, it is pretty much explained in the name; they come from the tail of a cow. Historically it would be from an ox but now it’s an umbrella term for the tail from either gender cow. It is extremely flavorful and since it is very fatty it’s a great cut for braising. Look for bigger pieces of oxtail since there will be more meat.

Braised Oxtail Ragu with Chile Gremolata-10.jpg

I think it is important to make use of less popular cuts of meat rather than tossing them aside as garbage. Because they aren’t popular cuts, oxtails are also fairly cheap.

They are commonly used in Asian recipes like soups and can be found fairly easily at Asian markets or your butcher. Some grocery stores keep them in the freezer section in bags. If you can’t find oxtails, then I’d recommend substituting boneless beef short ribs.

Braised Oxtail Ragu with Chile Gremolata

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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Serves 6


Braised oxtails:

  • 3 pounds oxtails, about 5 to 6 oxtails
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 packed cups roughly chopped mustard greens, stems removed

Chile gremolata:

  • 1 Fresno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, as needed

For serving:

  • ¾ pound medium shell pasta
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


For the braised oxtail:

  • Heat oven to 325°F.
  • In a small bowl stir together the salt, cumin, black pepper, paprika and cinnamon. Season the oxtails all over with the spices. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and heat through.
  • Working in batches if needed, arrange the oxtails in a single layer in the cast iron skillet. Sear the oxtails golden brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer meat to a plate, repeating until all oxtails are browned.
  • Return the pot to medium heat, add the carrots, celery and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the wine to the Dutch oven and simmer until it’s almost completely evaporated, about 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in the beef stock followed by the thyme and red pepper. Arrange the oxtails in the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.
  • Cook, turning oxtails half-way through cooking, until the meat is tender, about 3 hours. Remove the oxtails from the pot and let cool. Once cool, pull the oxtail meat from bones and shred the meat, discarding any large pieces of fat.
  • Add the meat back to the pot with the mustard greens and stir to combine, cooking over medium-low heat until the greens wilt, about an additional 10 minutes.

For the chile gremolata:

  • In a small mixing bowl, stir together Fresno peppers, cilantro, parsley, lime zest, lime juice, vinegar and olive oil until combined. Season with salt and set aside.

For assembly:

  • Place a large pot with salted water over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and return to the pot.
  • Ladle the oxtail stew over the pasta with the parmesan and ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, stirring to combine. Add the gremolata and stir once more. Divide among warmed pasta bowls. Serve immediately.



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