Italian Oxtail Stew

How to make an Italian Oxtail Stew.

Ingredients: Serves 6-8

  • 5 pounds (2.5k) oxtail, chopped into 1½ inch (4cm) chunks
  • ⅓ pound (150g) pancetta or bacon
  • 2 medium leeks
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 4 medium carrots
  • Thyme, fresh, a few sprigs
  • Rosemary, fresh, a few sprigs
  • 4 bay leaves, fresh or dry
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cans – 28 ounces (400g) whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup (275ml) Italian red wine
  • 1 quart (1 litre) organic beef stock, preferably homemade
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parsley for garnish


  1. Wash the oxtail pieces by soaking for at least 1 hour in cold water and changing the water until it runs clear.
  2. Dry the meat and set aside.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC).
  4. Place a large roasting tray in the oven to pre-heat for 10 minutes.
  5. Season the oxtail pieces liberally with salt and pepper.
  6. Remove the hot tray from the oven and add the oxtail to it.
  7. Drizzle ¼ cup olive oil over the oxtail, toss to coat and place in the hot oven for around 20 minutes or until golden and caramelized.
  8. In the meantime, wash, trim and halve the leeks and celery lengthways, then chop into rough ¾ inch (2cm) pieces.
  9. Peel and chop the carrots into ¾ inch (2cm) pieces and set aside.
  10. When the oxtail becomes golden and caramelized, remove from the roasting tray and keep warm.
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 325ºF (170ºC).
  12. Add the pancetta or bacon to the roasting tray and cook until brown and the fat renders.
  13. Drain the fat and then add the remaining olive oil, finely chopped onion, carrot, garlic and half of the celery and sauté until the carrot is soft and the onion translucent.
  14. Transfer vegetables to a Dutch oven.
  15. Pick, roughly chop and add the thyme and rosemary leaves.
  16. Then add bay and cinnamon stick to the Dutch oven and cook for around 20 minutes on medium heat, or until soft and sweet, stirring frequently.
  17. Open and empty canned tomatoes and juice into a bowl.
  18. Hand-crush the tomatoes and set aside.
  19. Add cloves and flour to the vegetables, stirring well to combine, then pour in the tomatoes and juice and wine.
  20. Add the oxtail and any roasting juices, cover with the beef stock and stir well.
  21. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil, then cover with lid and place in the hot oven for around 5 hours, or until the meat falls away from the bone, stirring every hour or so and adding a splash of water to loosen, if needed.
  22. Remove the stew from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.
  23. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  24. Strip the meat from the bones and return to the Dutch oven, discarding the bones.
  25. Re-heat stew to piping hot on the stove.
  26. Garnish with parsley.
  27. Serve and enjoy!
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