With winter knocking at our doors, our appetites move away from the lighter fares of summer in favor of belly warming comfort foods. What could be more comforting and hearty than stew? The Irish call it stout stew, Moroccan’s love their tagine, Americans have endless versions of chili, French cuisine has their infamous boeuf bourguignon, Brazilians scream for their feijoada, Caribbean’s stand by their curries; be it beef, pork, lamb, or turkey, across the borders, people crave for cozy comfort foods. The crowning jewel in my opinion is oxtail stew which I created by taking cues from all the various ethnic cuisines I cook, and slowly simmering the meat with the sweetness of roasted peppers and assorted spices.
The best part of this recipe is that is that you can use my recipe as the base to create soul warming delights which suite your family’s palate. Substitute the oxtails for protein of your choice, add more vegetables, or even additional spice if you like it super hot. To be honest, this recipe was an experiment. My family adores oxtails, this was my attempt in creating something unique taking my family’s palates in consideration – spicy, smoky, tangy, with a hint of sweetness or should I say ‘umami’?
Oxtail Stew with Roasted Peppers
This beef stew uses peppers as the main components, adding Caribbean and Indian spices to create complexity to the dish. A relatively simple dish to make, but the smokiness of the peppers and slow cooking adds a wonderful touch to the entire dish. A must try for spice lovers. I relish oxtails because of their meatiness and they are great for slow braising allowing for the meat to be completely immersed in this wonderfully spiced sauce. The caramelized oxtails not only add a beautiful color, but they perfectly compliment the spiciness of the pepper sauce.
- 3-4 lbs fresh oxtail (substitute with beef chunks, pork, lamb, or turkey)
- 2 big red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, and diced
- 2 habenero or scotch bonnet
- 2 big poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and diced
- 2 big Hungarian wax peppers, roasted, peeled, and diced
- 1 big onion chopped
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
- Fresh thyme and oregano stems
- 1 4oz Tomato paste
- 1 28 oz San Marzano tomato can
- 2 tbs cumin powder
- 2 tbs smoked paprika powder
- 1 tbs aji limo powder or any spicy red chili powder
- 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anises, 2 black cardamoms, 4 green cardamoms
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 – 3 cups water
- Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. In a heavy-set wide pan, brown the meat on all sides in 1/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.
- Roast the peppers over a gas grill or broil until charred. Let rest covered for 10 minutes. Peel the skin and dice the peppers.
- Add chopped onions, garlic, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cardamoms and saute till softened.
- Add all peppers, spices, and tomatoes. Saute for few minutes.
- Return the beef to pan, add water to submerge the beef, bring to boil and cover. Stir after 1 hour and cook for approximately 2 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Check for seasonings.
- Serve warm with white or brown rice.
Note: This dish has a bit of kick to it but not super hot. If you wish to make it extra spicy, throw in additional habenero peppers.
Now that I have got your palate drooling, do share your all time favorite comfort dishes. I would love to hear from you….