This recipe was an adventure into new territory.
(1) Where does one buy oxtail in St. Pete? The only way I knew to get oxtail was on sopa de cola day at a fritanga in Miami. Locally, our first thought was Mazzaro’s, but they directed Danny to another nearby butcher shop, Tony’s Meat Market. What I did find at Mazzaro’s was an awesome new-to-us pasta called garganelli, and I used it for this recipe.
(2) Adding horseradish to your breadcrumbs. YESS!! The ‘coarsely torn’ breadcrumbs, which Danny dutifully produced according to the instructions, turned out like baby croutons, and we tossed them with olive oil, horseradish, and chopped rosemary. They were just the zippy and final touch the oxtail ragù needed, and now I think horseradish baby croutons/breadcrumbs belong on all meaty pasta dishes going forward.
Oxtail turned out to be fairly easy to work with, and also a very fatty piece of meat. When we broke down the cooked meat for the sauce, oxtail reminded us a lot of short rib in terms of texture and its temperament for cooking. You can sub in short rib if you can’t find oxtail.
This is definitely a weekend pasta with a few more steps involved than something we’d throw together on a Tuesday. But it’s not too labor-intensive or difficult. We ended up loving the flavors here, and we’ll definitely be venturing back to Tony’s Meat Market some time so we can recreate this.
Oxtail Ragù with Garganelli and Horseradish Breadcrumbs
Feel free to sub in short ribs for the oxtail. Ragù can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. You want to use a short pasta with grooves on the sides to catch the sauce. I served this pasta with grated Parmesan on top, plenty of those breadcrumbs, and a simple arugula salad on the side dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. And plenty of wine, of course! An Italian red would be the obvious choice here for wine, but I was at Shep’s, which is so close to our house but more of a beer spot, and I found a reasonable Côtes du Rhône for us and a couple friends. It complimented the ragù very nicely! Recipe from Bon Appétit, who says this serves four when using 12 ounces of pasta, and though I did add a bit more pasta, we still found this to end up being a lot more food!
3 pounds oxtails
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 celery stalks
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, divided
1 cup coarsely torn breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish
12-16 ounces garganelli, strozzapreti or other short pasta
Heat oven to 350°F. Season oxtails with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pot (Dutch oven!) over medium-high heat and cook oxtails until deeply browned all over, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer browned meat to a bowl.
Meanwhile, finely chop onion, carrots, and celery in a food processor. Pulse carefully; you don’t want to create a paste. Cook vegetables in same pot, stirring often, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Return oxtails to pot and add wine, broth, and 2 teaspoons rosemary. Oxtails should be just covered; top off with water if needed. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise, checking halfway through to make sure oxtails are covered at least two-thirds of the way up, until meat is falling off the bone, 2 to 2½ hours. Remove oxtails from liquid. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and return to sauce; discard bones.
Meanwhile, toss breadcrumbs with remaining 2 tablespoons oil on a rimmed baking sheet, squeezing bread to help it absorb oil. Bake until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes; let cool. Stir breadcrumbs, horseradish, and remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary in a medium bowl.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente (pasta will still be opaque and very firm in the center; it will keep cooking in the sauce). Drain pasta, reserving 1½ cups pasta cooking liquid.
Bring ragù to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add pasta and 1 cup pasta cooking liquid and cook, tossing often and adding more cooking liquid to help finish cooking pasta, until pasta is al dente and sauce is thickened and coats pasta, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve pasta topped with horseradish breadcrumbs.
Serves about 6.