Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans

This is my other half’s favourite dish. He loves it so much that I made it for him for Valentine’s Day, which is quite fitting as the preparation is a bit of a labour of love – but it is absolutely worth it. The result is tender flavoursome meat that falls off the bone, and a rich savoury gravy. Once the prep is out of the way the cooking is super easy – pretty much bung the rest of the ingredients in a pan and leave it to stew, which makes it ideal dish to make for a Sunday dinner.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Oxtail: This is a flavoursome cut of meat that becomes really soft and tender as it is stewed.
  • Thyme: A staple herb in Jamaican cooking. It adds an earthy flavour.
  • Spring Onions: Adds savouriness to the gravy.
  • Pimento/All Spice: Pimento berries add a sweet cinnamon/nutmeg/clove flavour, hence its alternative name “all spice”. This is another staple in Jamaican cooking
  • Brown Sugar and Browning: Browning the meat prior to stewing it is a vital step to making this dish. The meat won’t taste the same unless it is browned off first. I use brown sugar and Sarson’s Browning for this. The brown sugar caramelises and adds to the deep flavours of the meat. And the Browning adds a deep brown colour to the meat.

How To Make Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans

Step One: Place 2 kg cleaned trimmed oxtail in a large mixing bowl (see the “Tips…” section below on how to clean the meat). Add 75 g brown sugar, 1.5 tbsp soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tbsp salt, 3 tsp garlic powder, 1.5 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp all spice and 1.5 tsp browning and mix well. You can use tongs to mix the meat, but I prefer to put on some food safe disposable gloves and work the seasoning into the meat by hand. Leave to marinade for around 20-30 minutes whilst you prepare the remaining vegetables for the dish.

Step Two: In a frying pan or deep casserole dish heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil on a high heat. Brown the seasoned oxtails for 2-3 minutes on each side. Do not over crowd the pan. Brown in batches if necessary.

Step Three: If using a casserole dish, remove some of the oil and any burnt parts from the dish first, otherwise in a large sauce pan add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and heat on a medium heat. Add 2 chopped medium onions and fry for around 5 minutes until they have softened.

Step Four: Add in 5 cloves of minced garlic, 6 stalks of finely chopped spring onions, 3 carrots sliced, 4 pimento berries, 1.5 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce, 1.5 tbsp ketchup, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 crushed cubes of reduced salt Beef Oxo, 350 ml water and the browned oxtails. Mix together and bring to a simmer.

Step Five: Simmer with the lid on for 3 – 3.5 hours until the meat is soft enough for your liking – I like my meat super soft and almost falling off the bone. Check the pot every 20-30 minutes to ensure that the pot hasn’t dried out. And turn the meat over after the first 90 minutes.

Step Six: Once the meat is soft add in two 400 g cans of drained tinned butter beans and stir. Cook for a further 10 minutes.

How To Serve Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans

Tips for Making Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans

  • Clean the oxtail with water and vinegar rinse (this is a traditional Caribbean way of cleaning meat). To do this add the oxtail to a large mixing bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water to rinse the meat. Add around 100 ml white vinegar to the meat and top the bowl up with water so that the meat is submerged. Set aside for around 5 minutes before pouring out the water.
  • Do not skip browning the meat. It really adds flavour to the dish. Traditionally a cast iron dutch pan is used for the browning and the stewing, but you could also use a good quality deep casserole dish. Just remove some of the oil and any brown/black residue (“fond”) at the bottom of the pan after the browning process.
  • During the stewing process be sure to check your pot every 20-30 minutes to ensure that it hasn’t dried out.
  • Turn the meat over after the first hour and a half of the stewing process to ensure even cooking.

Jamaican Oxtail Stew with Butter Beans Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
25 minutes
Cooking Time:
3 hrs 40 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 kg oxtails (the fat should be trimmed off and they should be rinsed in water and white vinegar – see the “Tips…” section above)
  • 75 g brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • 1.5 tsp browning (I use Sarson’s)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil (divided)
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 spring onion stalks finely chopped
  • 3 carrots sliced
  • 4 pimento berries (I use Dunn’s River)
  • 1.5 tsp scotch bonnet pepper sauce (I use Walkerswood)
  • 1.5 tbsp ketchup
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 reduced salt beef Oxo cubes (crushed)
  • 350 ml water

METHOD

  1. Add the oxtails to a large mixing bowl and add in the sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, all spice and browning and mix together. Leave to sit for around 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of the oil to a non-stick frying pan or deep casserole dish and heat over a high heat. Brown the oxtails in batches for around 2 – 3 minutes on each of the sides. Do not over crowd the pan. Set the browned oxtails aside.
  3. If using a casserole dish, remove some of the oil and any burnt parts from the dish first, otherwise in a large sauce pan heat the remaining 1 tbsp oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for around 5 minutes until they have softened.
  4. Add in the garlic, spring onion, carrots, pimento berries, pepper sauce, ketchup, thyme, Oxo cubes, water and the browned oxtails. Stir well and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cover and leave to stew for 3 to 3.5 hours. Check the pot every 20 – 30 minutes to ensure it hasn’t dried up, and turn the meat after the first 90 minutes.
  6. Once the meat is as tender as you like it add in the butter beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.

NOTES

Bolognese Sauce

Spaghetti Bolognese is a family favourite in my household. The kids have fun slurping up the spaghetti, my other half loves it as the sauce is full of flavour and protein, and I enjoy making it as it’s quick and easy, perfect for a mid-week meal. A lot of recipes for Bolognese sauce include red wine, however I like to make mine a fancy by adding in some port. It uplifts the flavour of the meat and adds a little sweetness to the sauce that works so well with the tomatoes.

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Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Serves: 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1.5 large white onions finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 750 g minced beef
  • 3 low salt beef stock cubes crushed
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 120 ml port
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 0.5 tsp mixed dried herbs (thyme, oregano, basil)
  • 3 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 400 g tin peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 100 ml water use to wash out the tomato tin
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok. Add in the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  3. Turn up the heat and add in the mince. Cook for 10 minutes stirring regularly until the meat has browned.
  4. Add in the port and stir through for two minutes until the alcohol smell goes away.
  5. Lower the heat and add in the crushed stock cubes and the tomato puree and stir well.
  6. Add in the rest of the ingredients apart from the salt and pepper and stir through.
  7. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on low for 25 to 30 minutes, checking and stirring every 10 minutes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.

NOTES

  • Serve with spaghetti and top with grated parmesan cheese.
  • Use any left over sauce as a topping for baked potatoes (white or sweet) for lunch the next day.
  • You can make this vegetarian by substituting the beef mince for Quorn mince and use vegetable

The Ultimate Burger

Happy New Year!

With December being the month for giving to others, I think January should be the month for being kind to yourself. After over indulging and over spending during the Christmas season this new month is the perfect time to reset, recharge and prepare yourself for the year ahead. Often there is pressure to hit the ground running in January – I used to set myself big resolutions for the New Year, sometimes they were over ambitious and I would crash and burn after a couple of weeks and feel disappointed. So now I take a more chilled out approach. Being in the dark depths of winter, and now in the middle of yet another lockdown (here in the UK), this was always set to be a tough month. So, I think January is the perfect time to unleash your inner hygge! Make sure you are comfortable and cozy, and do things that make you content. Take that bubble bath, read a novel, binge on a series (I would totally recommend Bridgerton by the way), eat well and nourish your body but allow yourself a little comfort food too. Just ease your mind and body into the new year. Then, when YOU’RE ready take your place in the world and slay 2021!

On the notion of comfort food, I have an amazing burger recipe to share. The patties are well seasoned and then double cooked to perfection – they are first browned on a grill pan and then steamed in the oven. The result is a super succulent burger with a tender texture and uber flavour. Trust me, this beats any restaurant burger, and is incredibly quick and easy to make for mid-week meal.

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The Ultimate Burger Recipe

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking/Baking Time: 32 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the burger patties:

  • 1 slice of bread (crustless and cut into 1 cm squared chunks)
  • 40 ml milk (I use oat milk but dairy milk is fine too)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 spring onions finely sliced and chopped
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 0.5 tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 750 g beef steak mince (around 15% fat)

To put the burgers together:

  • 4 brioche burger buns
  • 4 yellow cheese slices
  • shredded lettuce
  • 1 large tomato finely sliced
  • 1 red onion finely sliced
  • 8 slices of crinkle cut pickled gherkin
  • BBQ sauce, yellow mustard or additional ketchup
  • 4 slices grilled smoked streaky bacon (optional)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional).
  2. Mix all the ingredients for the burger patties together except for the mince.
  3. Add the mince and use clean hands to mix thoroughly.
  4. Divide the seasoned meat into 4 pieces and shape into patties.
  5. Heat a lightly oiled grill pan on a medium heat. Cook the burgers two at a time for 6 minutes on each side. I use my Tefal Grill Pan.
  6. Place the burgers in a baking tin and cover with foil. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Assemble the burger. Around 5 minutes before the burgers are done place the buns in the bottom of the oven to warm up. Slice the bun in half and top with a cheese slice lettuce and tomato. Add a burger patty. Top with your sauce of choice, sliced onions, a couple of gherkin slices and bacon if using.

NOTES

Filipino Beef Tapa

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Beef Tapa typically consists of pieces of lean beef marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, calamansi (a kumquat-mandarin orange hybrid fruit) juice, garlic and brown sugar, before being fried with onions. This dish is commonly eaten in the Philippines for breakfast along with garlic fried rice (sinangag) and fried egg (itlog). When all three are featured together in a meal it is known colloquially as “tapsilog”, a blend of the words “tapa”, “sinangag” and “itlog”. In my home we actually eat this as a dinner dish instead of breakfast.

The beef itself is tender a little tangy due to the calamansi in the marinade. It has that rich deep and savoury unami flavour from the soy sauce and the fried onions. Then there is the sweetness from the sugar which caramelises slightly in the frying process. It’s so tasty.

This dish is really easy to prepare, but needs a bit of organisation due to the long marinating time – marinating is a must! The calamansi juice for the marinade can also be difficult to obtain, so this can be substituted with lemon juice. I also include an additional step, which is to boil the marinated meat in water to tenderise it further, before frying. However, this is not a necessary step, I just prefer my meat to be a little more tender, also my fussy toddler is more likely to eat this dish if the meat is a little softer.


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Filipino Beef Tapa Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Marinating Time: 8 hours to overnight

Cooking Time: 30 – 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 750 g beef steak strips
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed or grated
  • 4 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 15 ml calamansi juice (you can get this here) or juice of half a lemon
  • 120 ml reduced salt soy sauce
  • 1 and a half medium onions sliced
  • 450 ml water
  • 3 tbsp light olive oil or vegetable oil

METHOD

  1. Place the beef in a non-metallic bowl. Add the garlic, brown sugar and calamansi juice and mix well. Add in the soy sauce and mix well again. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 8 hours or over night.
  2. Use a slotted spoon to drain the marinade from the meat.
  3. OPTIONAL: Place the meat in a tall frying pan or wok – I would recommend the Sky Light Wok Pan, it’s a versatile good quality wok, you can find out more about it here. Add the water and boil on a high heat until the water has evaporated. This takes around 20-25 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to a clean pan. Add the onions and fry on a medium high heat until soft and translucent. Set onions aside.
  5. Add the remaining oil to the same pan and fry the beef on a medium high heat for 7-10 minutes. Stir in the fried onions.

NOTES

  • Serve with garlic fried rice, fried egg and slices of fresh tomato for the classic Filipino tapsilog.
  • Sautéed mushrooms also work really well as a side for this dish.

Beef Meatball Curry

I used to associate meatballs with Italian food or IKEA 😉, but they are a lot more versatile than I initially thought. They work really well in this Indian inspired curry. The meatballs themselves are seasoned with onion and chilli, and the tomato-based sauce contains an aromatic blend of spices and creamy coconut milk which ensures full-on flavours with every bite.


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Beef Meatball Curry Recipe

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the meatballs:

  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 700 g lean beef mince
  • 0.5 large onion finely diced
  • 1 green chilli finely diced
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tbsp dried coriander leaf
  • 1 tsp salt

For the curry sauce:

  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1.5 large onions finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 thumb sized piece ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 0.5 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 400 g tin chopped tomato
  • 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 180 g spinach

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C fan (or 200°C conventional oven), line a baking tray with grease proof paper and brush with the oil. In a large bowl combine the mince, onion, chilli, garam masala, garlic powder and coriander leaf.
  2. Shape into 24 meatballs and spread them out on the prepared baking tray. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes until the balls have browned turning halfway.
  3. In the meantime make the curry sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan on a medium heat and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until softened for around 7 to 10 minutes.
  4. Pour in the spices (coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilli powder, mustard powder and cinnamon) and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir in the coconut milk.
  6. Add the cooked meatballs to the pan.
  7. Cook on a low heat with the lid on for 40 minutes. Be sure to stir the curry every 20 minutes.
  8. Add the spinach to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid on until wilted.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.

NOTES

  • For an even more flavoursome meatball, prepare the meatballs the day before and leave overnight in the fridge to marinade.
  • This also works well with lamb mince.
  • I use mild chilli powder in this dish to make it toddler friendly, but if you like spice then you may want to use the hot (or extra hot) version.
  • Serve with steamed basmati rice and a side salad.