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Oxtail Fail

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Le Sigh.

Unfortunately, not every dinner can be outstanding.  Some of them can be ‘good.’  Others ‘so-so.’  And a handful of home cooking leaves you wanting to toss the dish in the bin before ordering a pizza.  Friday night I made a toss-worthy dinner.

I’d heard nothing but good things about AbacusBraised Oxtail Spring Rolls so when I got the recipe as part of the Taste of Cayman freebies, I was thrilled about giving them a go.  I’ve never cooked with oxtail before and I thought I was up for the challenge.  So not true.

To start this recipe you sear oxtail, diced onion, scotch bonnet, diced green (or orange in my case) pepper and thyme in a heavy-bottom pan.  I did this wrong.  My buddy Nina – a former chef who is married to the show-stopper chef at the Soup-er Bowl – tells me this is a critical step for oxtail because it ‘seals the pores.’  My pan wasn’t hot enough which inevitably led to chewy meat even after letting it simmer for three hours.

The meat was supposed to fall off the bone at this point.  I knew I was in trouble when I was relegated to ripping the oxtail off the bone with my fingers.  It smelled good though.

The next step is to mix the oxtail with carrots, green onion and soft rice noodle.  I couldn’t find rice noodles at the grocery store so I opted to use one of my staple substitutes: feta cheese.

Another sign that I’d messed up this recipe appeared while stuffing the spring rolls.  The recipe says ‘serves 8.’  I mean, I’m looking at it right now:  ‘Serves 8.’  Good thing I didn’t invite anyone over for the debut of this dish because I’d have been left with 5 very hungry, grumpy guests.

After baking the rolls for 5 minutes, I served them with Thai Kitchen Hot & Sour Rice Noodle Soup.  Don’t give me that look! I’d just spent 4 hours cooking the rolls so I don’t feel the least bit guilty about serving instasoup.  And the soup is really good, as long as you ignore the sodium content.

The rolls were okay.  They tasted fine.  The seasoning was really good, but dinner was not in the least bit worth the amount of work it took to make. But this was most definitely a ‘user malfunction.’  I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about Abacus’ version, so maybe on my second attempt (for the masochist in me) I’ll have better luck.  I think I’ll give oxtail the win and substitute some other type of beef the next go around.

Braised Oxtail Spring Roll by Abacus
Print this recipe
You will need:
1 pound cut oxtail
1/2 onion diced
1 scotch bonnet diced, no seeds
1 green pepper diced
green onion (no amount specified)
julienne carrots (no amount specified)
soft Rice Noodle (no amount specified)
4 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups water
Salt & Pepper


  • Mix oxtail, diced onion, scotch bonnet, green pepper, thyme, vegetable oil and salt and pepper together and marinate about 1 hour
  • Sear in hot, heavy bottom pot until meat is uniformly colored
  • Add 2 cups water to deglaze (I actually used low sodium beef broth instead…but we all know how well mine turned out)
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 3 hours or until all the meat is cooked off the bone
  • Allow to cool. Strain and separate meat from bones
  • Chop cooled meat and mix with carrots, chopped green onion and soft rice noodle
  • Roll filling in spring roll wrappers, following directions on package
  • Lightly brush rolls with veggie oil and bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 6 minutes or until the wrappers are crispy
  • Serve with Thai style chili sauce
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  1. When cooking oxtail, you have to put A LOT of garlic (about 5-7 cloves per pound of oxtail). The garlic helps to tenderize the meat. And you have to sear the meat without the seasonings at first, then you put the seasonings when you're adding the stock and let it simmer.

  2. Try it again please my mouth is salivating just from reading this….. but please invite me next time 🙂

  3. It is wonderful that today's bright young women are still interested in putting a good meal on the table. Keep up the good work ladies!

  4. I deeply sympathize. I tried to make a simple ham and peas in a chicken stock and white wine cream sauce yesterday and added too much wine to the sauce. My dad actually asked me why the sauce was sour. When I told him it was from too much wine, he insisted that I must have used vinegar. I really did just want to toss it by the time I was done, but then I don't know what we would have eaten for dinner. I tried adding more wine because the sauce was too salty. Ham can be a tricky little vixen.

  5. It's always a bummer when a meal doesn't turn out the way you expect it.

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