Braised Oxtails And Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Oxtails may not be a cut of beef that you're as familiar with as, say, a brisket or sirloin, but if you've never tried braised oxtails before, you're in for a treat. Oxtails are, quite literally, the tail of a cow or calf. "Oxtail is a bony and fatty cut of meat, which, when braised, releases its deep, rich flavors into the dish," says recipe developer Milena Manolova of Crumbles of Health. "[It] has a robust, beefy flavor, similar to other cuts of beef, but with its own distinctive taste due to the marrow and connective tissues in the bones." 

But because of all that marrow and connective tissue, oxtails must be cooked low and slow. "The slow cooking process allows the flavors to meld together, resulting in a savory and satisfying taste. The braising breaks down collagen into gelatin, which gives the sauce a slightly thick and sticky consistency. This imparts a velvety mouthfeel and contributes to the overall richness of the dish," Manolova says. 

While you do have to plan ahead to cook and serve oxtails (this recipe takes a little more than 3 hours), Manlova says it's a dish that's worth the wait. "I love how hearty and soul-warming this dish is," she says. Plus, when served with mashed potatoes, you end up with the perfect, comforting meal. 

Gather the ingredients for braised oxtails with brown butter mashed potatoes

Most of the ingredients for this braised oxtails recipe are readily available at your local grocery store. That said, you may have to ask the butcher if they have oxtails available, as they may not be on display with the other meats. Before getting started, gather up the oxtail, salt, pepper, yellow onions, carrots, celery (you can chop them with or without the leaves), fresh thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves, garlic cloves, red wine, canned chopped tomatoes, and water. 

To make the mashed potatoes, you'll also need butter, Russet potatoes, and hot milk. 

Brown the oxtails

Before starting the braising process, you need to brown the oxtails. "It's essential to brown the oxtail in a hot pan or Dutch oven. This step adds depth of flavor to the dish through the Maillard reaction, creating rich and savory notes," Manolova says. 

Go ahead and place a Dutch oven on the burner, setting it to high heat. If you don't have a Dutch oven, you can use a casserole dish with a lid, or a roasting pan with a lid — Manolova says it just needs to be deep enough to hold the liquid and other ingredients. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper, then put it in the hot pan, browning it for about 2-3 minutes on each side. When it's browned, remove the oxtail and set it aside. 

Cook the veggies and add the herbs

Reduce the heat of the Dutch oven or casserole dish to medium. Add the chopped onion and carrots, and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the celery and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the herbs and garlic. Saute it all together for a minute before moving to the next step. 

Pour in the wine before adding the tomatoes

Add the red wine to the Dutch oven and let it reduce for 2 minutes. While the type of red wine you choose comes down to personal preference, Manolova has some tips for choosing a wine that will complement the dish the best. "Wines with dark fruit flavors like blackberry, plum, or cherry, as well as notes of spices and oak, tend to work well with braised meats. Tannins in red wine can add structure and complexity to the braising liquid. Moderate to high tannins can help balance the richness of the oxtail and contribute to a well-rounded flavor. The acidity in wine can help cut through the richness of the dish and provide a pleasant contrast to the fatty meat. Cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, zinfandel, and Malbec are all great choices," she says.

When the wine has reduced, add the chopped tomatoes to the Dutch oven and stir well. Season with some salt.

Put the oxtails back in before cooking low and slow

The braising liquid is now almost ready. Simply add the oxtail back into the dish and pour in the two cups of water. "The liquid should cover about two-thirds of the oxtail, ensuring it remains moist and submerged during the slow cooking process," Manolova says.

Reduce the heat on the burner to low before placing the lid on the casserole or Dutch oven. You'll be cooking the meat covered for 2 hours. After the 2 hours have passed, remove the lid and cook for 1 more hour with the dish uncovered, allowing the sauce to reduce. This is also the point where you can taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed. 

Brown the butter for the mashed potatoes

During the final hour of cooking, after having removed the lid on the Dutch oven, you can prepare your mashed potatoes. Start by browning the butter. "Browned butter has a rich, toasted, and nutty flavor that sets it apart from regular melted butter. As caramelized taste develops, adding a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to the butter. Browning the butter enhances its aroma significantly, giving it a more complex and appetizing smell," explains Manlova. 

Set a saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter and stir constantly. After it melts, continue to let it cook (still stirring) — you'll know it's browned when you smell a nutty aroma, it turns a deep golden brown color, and browned milk solids appear in the bottom of the pan. This should take about 3-4 minutes. When it's ready, remove it from the heat and transfer it to a bowl or cup. Set aside.

Boil the potatoes

Place a large pot on the stove, add the peeled potatoes, and fill it with cold water until the potatoes are fully submerged. Add some salt to the water and bring the pot to a boil. Continue boiling on medium heat with the pot partially covered by a lid. When the potatoes are tender, cut the heat.

Drain, mash, and season the potatoes

Drain the water from the pot of potatoes. Working in the same pot, mash the potatoes roughly before stirring in the hot milk. While you can use any mashing method you choose, Manolova prefers using a potato masher (rather than a ricer), because it provides more control over the smoothness of the potatoes' texture. Mash a little more, then add the browned butter. 

Mash until the potatoes are smooth or reach your preferred consistency. When they're ready to go, season them with salt and pepper and mix the whole pot one more time. Cover the pot to help keep them warm until you're ready to serve them. 

Serve the oxtail over the potatoes

After 3 hours of cooking, the oxtail should be ready. You'll know it's done when the meat easily falls off the bone. Serve it hot over the mashed potatoes. 

If you don't finish it all in one sitting, you can store it covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can store it with the mashed potatoes, or separately. 

Braised Oxtails and Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes Recipe
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This hearty and soul-warming recipe for braised oxtails and brown butter mashed potatoes offers up the perfect, comforting meal.
Prep Time
Cook Time
oxtails brown butter mashed potatoes
Total time: 3 hours, 15 minutes
  • 2 pounds oxtail
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 1 ¾ cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1 ⅔ cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups chopped celery stalks with leaves or only stalks
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 ½ cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound Russet potatoes, cut in half or quarters
  • ½ cup hot milk
  1. Season the oxtail with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Place a Dutch oven on the burner, set on high heat. Brown the oxtail (about 2-3 minutes on each side). Remove from the pot and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the chopped onion and carrots. Cook until the onions are translucent. Then add the chopped celery. Cook for 1-2 more minutes.
  4. Add the herbs (thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves) and garlic. Sauté for 1 more minute.
  5. Pour the red wine and let it reduce for about 2 minutes.
  6. Next, add the chopped tomatoes with 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix it through and add the oxtail back in.
  7. Pour in the 2 cups of water.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and cook covered for about 2 hours.
  9. In the last hour of cooking, remove the lid and let the sauce reduce. At this point, you can give it a taste and add any additional salt or black pepper, if needed.
  10. During the last hour, make the brown butter. In a saucepan, cook the butter over medium heat. Once melted, start stirring constantly. When you smell a nutty aroma, the butter is deep golden brown, and browned milk solids appear in the bottom of the pan (about 3–4 minutes), remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl or a cup.
  11. Next, add potatoes to a large pot and add enough cold water to cover the tops, about an inch over the potatoes. Sprinkle in half a teaspoon of salt. Let them boil on medium heat, partially covered with a lid, until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  12. Once ready, drain the water from the potatoes. Mash them roughly, then add the hot milk, mash a bit more, add the browned butter, and continue mashing until the consistency is smooth.
  13. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the potatoes. Mix it through and cover with a lid until ready to serve.
  14. When the oxtail is ready, the meat should easily fall off the bone.
  15. Serve over the mashed potatoes.
Calories per Serving 878
Total Fat 54.0 g
Saturated Fat 26.1 g
Trans Fat 1.1 g
Cholesterol 212.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 41.7 g
Dietary Fiber 7.5 g
Total Sugars 10.9 g
Sodium 1,886.6 mg
Protein 51.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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