Spanish oxtail stew – rabo de toro

by smth good on January 13, 2011

in meat&poultry

Oxtail stews and soups have a long history all over Europe dating back to the Roman Empire and they go beyond this continent. One might stumble upon oxtail stews in China and other parts of the world, cooked in so many various manners. As slow food is back on track, any oxtail stew is a perfect candidate for a long cooking dinner.

We decided to cook oxtail in the Spanish manner, the one that we find the most delicious and daring. Rabo de toro (literally “tail of the bull” in Spanish) is the name of an Andalusian medieval dish born in XVI century Cordoba where it was cooked with tails of corrida slaughtered bulls. They are variations in ingredients, some versions include chocolate and Porto, but we chose a more classical approach. It takes time to cook this rich stew, simmering at low heat with plenty of vegetables, wine and spices in order to get a soft meat and a velvety sauce.

Utensils: a large stewing pot, tongs

Serves 4, prep. time 4 hours


  • 1.5 kg oxtails
  • 4 carrots, large dice
  • half celery root, large dice
  • 2 onions diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, diced
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled and diced (or canned tomatoes)
  • 1 liter beef stock
  • 500 ml dry red win
  • 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar (traditionally, Jerez wine vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry thyme
  • salt and pepper

Brown the oxtails on all sides in olive oil in a stewing pot.

Transfer the oxtails onto a plate.

Add the onion and sweat for 2-3 minutes, than add the garlic, carrots and celery.

Add tomatoes, wine and beef stock, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then add the browned oxtails, bay leaves, thyme. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water as required. This is the part where you might want to add more wine for a richer flavor; the important thing is to check the stew constantly and keep the liquid level slightly above the oxtails in order to allow them to cook thoroughly. Remember to add water from time to time as required; otherwise the stew will be too rich.

Check the meat to see if it is well cooked.

Serve hot with potatoes (boiled or mash potatoes).

Oxtail on FoodistaOxtail

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{ 86 comments… read them below or add one }

Rich January 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I have never wanted to eat the tail of an ox so badly. That looks absolutely delicious!


Alisa January 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Oh, you kill me! That looks so delicious! When I have the luxury of time to slow cook a pot of this, I’m definitely gonna make them. I hope you could add this oxtail widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about oxtail,Thanks!


Peggy January 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I’ve never cooked with oxtails before, but this definitely has me wanting to rush to the grocery to snag some up!


Jitka April 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm

It’s the best!!! MMMMMMMMmmmmmm……..


Lizzy April 28, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Thank you! I’ve tried this already twice and today my parents-in-law left our house convinced that their son is lucky with a wife that cooks so well.. while in essence this is so easy. Mine comes out much darker though, but still delicious!


something_good May 4, 2012 at 11:27 am

Lizzy, I’m happy to hear about it :) . The color depends quite a lot on the beef stock (ours is somehow lighter, thus the color in the photo).


Riham July 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I cooked this today & it’s just amazing .. I live in Spain & my husband is andalusian & he told me that it’s the best rabo de toro he had ever eaten. Thanks for a great recipe.


smth good August 28, 2012 at 8:11 am

Riham, I’m glad you liked it :)


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Anne Luton December 25, 2013 at 8:36 pm


Can you use a slow cooker for this recipe and if so how long on low or high would you cook it?

Thanks…looks and sounds delicious! Can’t wait to make it :)


Mark September 13, 2015 at 11:28 am

You can use the slow cooker for the long simmering period, but you would first need to start with a heavy deep sauce pan to brown the oxtail, then to deglaze it with some of the wine, etc. (I prefer to sauté the onions, garlic, etc first, remove them, add a bit more oil and brown the tail, deglaze. Then combine all ingredients, and bring to a boil. Then lower to simmer, covered for 3 to 5 hrs. This last part can be done in a crock pot -I actually did exactly that yesterday for guests we were expecting for dinner. If you use a liner, it makes for easy clean-up once the guests depart, as the other pan and utensils can be washed and put away hours before serving the meal.) There are many variations of this dish online, so you may want to review a number of them before settling on “your version”.


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