Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Pasta with Oxtail Ragu

In cooking terms, “oxtail” doesn’t always mean the tail of an ox. Now, it commonly refers to the tail of a cow. And that’s most likely what you’ll find in your butcher shop. There’s not a lot of meat on the tail, but when you slowly braise the collagen-rich sections, the meat turns wonderfully tender and the bone creates a silky broth—so rich and silky that a little goes a long way. A small amount is good here.

If you can’t find oxtail, try beef short ribs or spare ribs—any cut that benefits best from low-and-slow cooking.

For the pasta, I used strozzapreti, a semi-short “rolled” noodle. Penne or rotini would be good too.

Note: Since the braising liquid is actually the sauce in this recipe, be sure to keep the liquid level about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the oxtail pieces as they braise. Check it halfway through and add a little more broth or wine (or both), if needed.

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs oxtail sections
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped, peeled carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup dry white wine, plus more if needed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 oz strozzapreti (or penne or rotini)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped tarragon, plus more for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Season the oxtail with salt and pepper and sear, turning a few times, until browned all over, 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Oxtail Beginning to Sear
Seared Oxtail
  1. Add the celery, onion, and carrot to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes.
  3. Return the oxtail to the pan and add the broth, wine, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Cover the pan tightly and braise in the oven until the oxtail is very tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours, depending on size. (Turn after about 1 hour and check the liquid level. If oxtail is not covered at least 2/3 of the way up, add a little more broth or wine.)
Vegetables Beginning to Cook 
Softened Vegetables
Broth and Wine Added 
Halfway Through 
Braised Oxtail
  1. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and transfer the oxtail to a clean plate. When cool enough to handle, shred the meat and return it to the pan.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted, boiling water until not quite al dente, about 5 minutes, reserving 1 cup pasta water.
  3. Bring the ragu to a simmer. Stir in the pasta, 1/2 cup pasta water, and 2 tablespoons tarragon. Cook until the pasta finishes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup pasta water, if needed. Stir until slightly thickened.
Meat Returned 
Pasta, Water, and Tarragon Added 
Cooked Pasta and Ragu
Serve the pasta garnished with chopped tarragon.

Pasta with Oxtail Ragu


  1. Why is the oven turn to 300 degrees when it looks like it is cooked on the stove top? Was just wondering.

  2. Thanks much for your post. The intention is that the pan is placed in the oven for braising, but I realize I didn't specify that. I've now added text to clarify it, and I appreciate your bringing it to my attention.

    Thank you!

  3. Yum, this looks delicious! I love ox tail, but have only had it in restaurants, pinning to try this at home. Thanks for sharing at What'd You Do This Weekend? :)