Thursday, March 13, 2014

Oxtail Chili

Before I give you my latest award winning Chili recipe, I feel the urge to gather my soapbox and to say a few words about Chili.  I believe with all of my heart and soul that the first person to put beans in his chili, did so because he ran out of meat.  Sure, beans are "traditional" now, but they shouldn't be.  A "Chili" is a pepper, after all, not a bean.  Season a pot of meat with enough Chili Powder, and eventually you'll taste more chili than meat so, the dish is really all about balance (and the chili peppers).  On a purity scale from 0-10, a pure-bread Texan would rate a "10" if he were to slice the meat up into chunks so tiny, it would almost cook completely away, leaving a bowl of deeply flavored thick red chili "sauce" (this is where the phrase, "A good bowl of red" came from).  A Vegan bowl of "Meatless White 3-bean Chili" would earn you a zero. 

If you ask me, a hearty bowl of chili turns into a mild bowl of soup as soon as you drop a bean into the pot.  So, don't do it... I fall somewhere around a 7 on the purity scale.  You'll never find beans in my chili, the meat should always play 2nd fiddle, but I will add some onions, tomatoes and other spices to the mix to bring a bit of texture.

Here is the recipe that recently won me a "1st Place" in the "Beef" category, as well as "Best Overall" at the cookoff:

You Will Need:
  • 2 Packages Oxtail Medallions (5-6lbs)
  • 2 28ox can diced tomatoes, (I used the “Fire Roasted” kind)
  • 4 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 2 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 5 Heaping Tbsp (yes, TABLESPOONS) Chili powder (I like homemade)
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced as fine as possible
  • 2 dried chipotle chili peppers
  • 6-8 Cups beef stock from your oxtails
  • 4 slices of uncooked bacon (chopped into tiny tiny bits)
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 Tbsp paprika smoked
  • 2 whole jalapeno chili peppers, diced

Oxtails can be tough to find.  Ask your local meat cutter for a source if your store doesn't have them.  They're fantastic for making beef stock, and the meat is similar in texture to Barbacoa.  It's very flavorful.  The only hassle is, there is a LOT of connective tissue to deal with and, of course, bones.  I bet you didn't know a cow's tail had so many bones... Before you even think about chili, you'll have to cook the meat off of those bones and build some stock.  This takes time!  Your patience will be rewarded!
Place all of the oxtail medallions into a stock pot and add enough water to cover them by ¼ inch. Add a cup or two of red wine if you have some handy (who doesn't?).  Add a few heavy pinches of salt, bring it to a boil and reduce that to a simmer.  Let the oxtails simmer for at least 6 hours, until the meat will fall off of the bones.  Pull the meat off and save it in a bowl, discard the bones and keep the stock.  Skim the fat off the top, these beauties will produce copious amounts of it.
Now, for Chili!  Sweat the bacon in your stock pot. When the bits are nice and brown and crispy, remove the bacon and leave the fat. Add all of the powdered spices (except for the oregano). Stir it into the bacon fat and cook over Medium High heat for 1 minute to wake up the oils in the spices and Chili powder. 

Add the onions, peppers, jalapenos and garlic.  Saute all of the veggies, stirring frequently for 15 minutes or so.  Add tomato paste and keep sauteing.  

Pour on your diced tomatoes. Stir.  Add the Oxtail stock and bacon bits to pot.  Stir.  Add the ox tail meat, along with the chipotles and oregano. Continue to heat until boiling, then reduce to a simmer and let it simmer there, with the lid OFF, for about four hours.  Leaving the lid off will allow some of the liquid to boil off and the sauce to thicken.   

After 4 hours or so, everything should have come together very nicely!  Remove your Chipotle Chilis, as their flavor has now been imparted to the mix and you don't want your diners to eat a whole one of those... As a final step, I like to Cool the chili when it’s done so the fat will solidify into a disk that is easy to remove.  Chili is always better when it's reheated the second day, right? 

Since this recipe calls for two "Cool Down" periods, I recommend starting it a day earlier than you plan to serve it.  If you're wondering if it's worth it, I promise you; you've never tasted anything like it in your life and it's fantastic!  Spicy, but not too much so; smoky, soft with a bit of "bite" for your tooth, and deeply flavored.  You'll need a block of cornbread to sop up any leftovers.


  1. How many people will this serve? I want to make it ahead of time and bring it to the tailgating party.

  2. It should serve 8-10 "normal sized" people!

  3. This is a great recipe! Follwed it exact. I will make it again and not change much (maybe drain tomatoes). The rich flavor and silky texture from the oxtail are incredible.

  4. This chili is very good!!! Thanks for the recipe. I made it for a competition and won!!! First time making this chili and first time in a competition. I used leeks instead of onion. Thanks again!!!

    1. Congratulations on your win, Paul! It's good to hear!


Questions or comments? Did you love it or hate it?