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Dining Tip: Slow-Cooked Tender Oxtail with Popovers

When it's cooked right—and paired with a delicious red wine—this oft-overlooked cut of meat makes for a crowd-pleasing meal
Photo by: Andrew Purcell
Choose a wine with balance and structure to pair with the buttery meat and eggy popovers.

Posted: February 19, 2018

Note: This recipe originally appeared in the March 31, 2018, issue of Wine Spectator, "2015 Bordeaux."

Recipe courtesy of chef Mashama Bailey of the Grey restaurant in Savannah, Ga.

Slow-Cooked Oxtail with Popovers

• 5 pounds oxtail, cut into sections
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 3 star anise pods
• 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
• 2 bay leaves
• Canola or vegetable oil
• 2 cups canned whole, peeled plum tomatoes, drained
• 1 cup large-diced onion
• 1/2 cup large-diced carrot
• 1/2 cup large-diced celery
• 1 cup red wine
• 8 cups beef broth or water
• 4 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 cups milk, at room temperature

1. Season oxtail with salt and pepper. Create a cheesecloth sachet and place star anise, peppercorns and bay leaves inside. Tie with twine.

2. Coat the bottom of a Dutch oven with oil and heat over medium-high until oil is shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches, sear oxtail all over, including sides, until golden-brown, taking care not to overcrowd pan. Add oil as needed. Set aside seared oxtail. In a small bowl, reserve most of the drippings for baking the popovers, leaving a bit in the pan.

3. Heat pan over medium-low. Add onions, celery and carrots. Stir to pick up brown bits. Once the vegetables start to soften, add the tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes stick to the pan and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Add the wine and simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325° F.

4. Return oxtails to pot and add the sachet. Pour in beef broth just to cover meat. Bring to a simmer and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to oven and cook until meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Let pot come to room temperature and transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight.

5. Scrape fat from liquid's surface and discard. Reheat pot on stove over medium-low until mixture is heated through. Set meat aside and keep warm. Strain and discard solids from liquid. Return liquid to pot and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook, skimming fat from surface occasionally, until sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 1 hour. Return oxtails to pot and stir to coat with sauce. Cover and keep warm.

6. Place two 12-cup muffin tins on a large baking sheet and transfer to oven. Preheat tins to 450° F. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and 1 teaspoon salt to combine. Whisk in flour until frothy and smooth.

7. Brush 15 of the pans' outer cups with 1 teaspoon reserved pan drippings, then fill each about three-quarters full of batter. Bake until popovers are puffed and deep golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately slip popovers onto cooling racks. Pierce the side of each with a paring knife to release steam.

8. Place a warm popover on each dinner plate and add a few pieces of oxtail, with sauce. Serves 6.

Recommended wine pairings

Chef's Pick: Mauro Molino Barolo 2009

Wine Spectator Alternates: Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco Muncagota Riserva 2011 (95, $59)

Tenuta Borgo Scopeto Toscana Borgonero 2015 (90, $24)

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