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Rabo de Toro (Oxtail Stew)

Rabo de Toro is Spanish Oxtail stew, a slow cooked beef dish that consists of melt in your mouth meat that falls off the bone, and a rich, unctuous gravy that will immediately bring you to your happy place. (maybe not if you are a vegetarian)

One of the best meals I have ever had was at a little Spanish cafe in Barcelona a few years back. I didn't speak Spanish and the little old lady running the place didn't speak English so I picked something out at random on the menu and hoped for the best. The dish I picked was, as you may have guessed; Rabo de Toro. I had no idea what it was even when it arrived at the table, I had never had oxtail before, never mind the Spanish version! But what I did know was that it was one of the best dishes I had ever had the pleasure of eating. This is my version of the classic dish that made me so happy, many moons ago.

In Spain it is usually served with chips but it also goes quite well with roast potatoes or freshly baked sourdough bread.


2kg Oxtail

2 Tablespoons Plain Flour

100ml Rapeseed Oil

1 Onion, finely chopped

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 5mm slices

1 Leek, thinly sliced

5 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

Small Cinnamon Stick

2 Cloves

4 Tomatoes, roughly chopped

200ml Brandy

500ml Red Wine

2 dried bay leaves

2 sprigs rosemary

Salt and Pepper to taste

Large cast iron pot with a lid

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cooking Time: 4 1/2 hours

Serves: 4 - 6 people (when served with chips or roast potatoes)


  1. Start with preheating your oven to 160c on the fan setting

  2. Trim away any excess fat from the oxtail and lay it out on a tray, sprinkle over a little salt as well as half the flour, then turn them over and do the same on the other side. Toss the pieces around until they are evenly coated

  3. Heat a large cast iron pot on a high heat and add the oil. Brown the oxtail on all sides in batches before setting aside.

  4. In the same pot, add the onions, carrot, leek and garlic and fry, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes until starting to caramelize slightly, then add the cinnamon stick, cloves and tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes

  5. Add the oxtail back to the pan and give it a good stir, then add the brandy and wine and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half

  6. Add the bay leaves and rosemary as well as a good pinch of salt and few grinds of black pepper

  7. Place the lid on the pot and put in the oven, cook slowly for four hours until it has cooked right down and the oxtail is so tender it falls off the bone. You'll need to stir it at least every half hour to stop it sticking, maybe a little more regularly towards the end. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving

  8. Serve with chips or roast potatoes and enjoy!

The Oxtail (my butcher prepped mine)

Dusting the oxtail in flour
Browning the oxtail in batches

The sauteed Veg

Spices and Tomatoes Added

Reducing the brandy and wine

Adding the water and herbs before cooking low and slow

Rabo de Toro - Bon Appetite!

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