At one time oxtail actually lived up to its' name. It was the tail portion taken from oxen. When beef cattle became more plentiful than oxen, beef tails became the substitute, but retained the original name. A bony, but juicy, part of the cow, oxtail makes a hearty broth or stew. It can be a challenge to find and buy at the grocers, so here are a few tips.
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Look for pre-packaged oxtails at your local market. These will be in the meat section and are usually pre-sliced. If you don't see them on the shelf, ask the butcher if they have them or can order them for you.
Try one of the specialty food stores if you have no luck at the local market. ey tend to have more exotic choices in all products including meat. They usually have a butcher knowledgeable in these items.
Call a local meat market. They tend to have any cut of meat you are looking to buy, but these markets ar not found in all areas.
Choose fresh oxtail if available. Buy the whole tail and have the butcher slice it for you in 1 to 2-ich slices.
Tips and warnings
- Substitute veal or beef neck, shanks or short ribs if you can't find oxtail. However, don't expect the flavor to be as intense.
- To insure tender meat and the best flavor, cook the oxtail slowly. A crockpot is perfect, if available. If not, a heavy dutch oven on top of the stove produces the desired result.