Traditionally oxtail stew, rabo de toro, is made only of those bulls’ tails that were fighting in arenas. The tradition began from Córdoba in the old days, but now you can find oxtail stew everywhere in Spain.
While this dish is not hard to make, it takes more than 8 hours to cook simmering slowly at low heat. In Spain you can order whole oxtails from local butchers and one tail weights about 1,5 – 2 kg (~4 pounds). We always ask our butcher to cut the tail in pieces, because separating the joints can be somewhat tricky.
Ingredients for Rabo de Toro (4 Servings)
- 1 oxtail cut in pieces according to the joints – rabo de toro
- 1 big onion – cebolla grande
- 3 carrots – zanahornas
- 1 red paprika – pimiento rojo
- 2 gloves of garlic – dientes de ajo
- 1 bottle of red wine – vino tinto
- 1/2 litre (2 cups) of beef stock – caldo de carne
- 2 bay leaves – hojas de laurel
- salt – sal
- ground black pepper – pimienta negra
Start by cutting onion, carrot and paprika into small cubes. Slise the garlic. If there is excess fat on top of the oxtail pieces, remove it before proceeding. The bone marrow provides a lot of fat, so we don’t want more than that.
We recommend preparing this food in a large cast iron pot. Warm it on medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. When the oil is hot, brown the oxtail pieces. You have to do it in several batches, because there are quite a lot of pieces.
When the meat is browned, move aside, add little more olive oil, if needed and soften onions, garlic, carrots and paprika. When softened, add beef stock, bottle of red wine and bay leaves. Put the pot on high heat until the liquid begins to boil. Add the oxtail pieces and set on low heat. Cover the pot with lid and after awhile check that it boils slowly. Adjust the heat accordingly. After that, just leave it for 4 hours.
In the midpoint of cooking stir the stew. All pieces of meat should be covered with liquid – and if not, add some wine or stock. Cook for another 4 hours and season with salt and pepper to taste. Do not season the stew until very end because a lot of liquid vaporizes during cooking and you may over season it, if done too early. You can remove the bones from the stew, if you wish, but it’s not necessary. The bones are usually clean of meat at this point.
Serve the stew with oven roasted vegetables or simply just some freshly baked bread. Dip the bread in the stew and have a glass of good Spanish Ribera del Duero wine to go with it.