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African Dishes

How to Cook Oxtail Stew the South African Way

Oxtail stew is a beloved South African dish known for its rich, flavorful broth and tender, succulent meat. This hearty stew is perfect for warming up on a chilly day or for serving to guests.


Oxtail stew is a well-loved dish in South Africa, and for good reason: it has a deep, savoury broth, and the meat is both tender and meaty. This hearty stew is ideal for presenting to visitors or for warming up on a chilly day when you want to stay inside. In the following detailed instructions, we will walk you through the process of cooking a traditional South African oxtail stew that will make your taste buds do a happy dance.


For the Oxtail:

  • 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of oxtail pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the Marinade:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Stew:

  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)
  • 1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish


  • A large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven with a lid
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Measuring cups and spoons

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Prepare the Oxtail:
    • Start by washing the oxtail pieces under cold running water to remove any bone fragments or excess fat.
    • Pat them dry with paper towels.
    • Season generously with salt and black pepper.
  2. Marinate the Oxtail:
    • In a mixing bowl, combine the finely chopped onion, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, dried thyme, dried rosemary, paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin, chilli powder, and bay leaves.
    • Mix these ingredients together to form a thick marinade paste.
  3. Coat the Oxtail:
    • Rub the marinade all over the oxtail pieces, ensuring they are well coated.
    • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the flavorss to meld.
  4. Sear the Oxtail:
    • Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
    • Add the marinated oxtail pieces and sear them until they are browned on all sides. This step adds depth of flavor to the stew.
    • Remove the oxtail from the pot and set it aside.
  5. Prepare the Stew Base:
    • In the same pot, add the chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes. Sauté them for a few minutes until they start to soften.
  6. Deglaze the Pot:
    • Pour in the red wine (if using) to deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Allow the wine to simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly.
  7. Combine Ingredients:
    • Return the seared oxtail to the pot.
    • Add the canned chopped tomatoes and beef or vegetable broth.
    • Stir to combine all the ingredients.
  8. Simmer the Stew:
    • Bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
    • Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for about 2 to 3 hours. Stir occasionally and check for tenderness. The oxtail should be fork-tender when done.
  9. Adjust Seasoning:
    • Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with salt, black pepper, and additional chilli powder if desired.
  10. Serve:
    • Once the oxtail is tender and the flavours have melded, remove the bay leaves.
    • Ladle the oxtail stew into bowls, garnish with fresh parsley, and serve piping hot.
  11. Optional Side Dish:
    • South African oxtail stew is traditionally served with pap (maize porridge) or rice. You can prepare your choice of side dish to accompany the stew.


The preparation of South African oxtail stew is a labour of love; nonetheless, the finished product is a dish that is flavorful to the extreme and extremely gratifying. This delicious stew is likely to become a favourite of yours, whether you share it with your loved ones or your closest friends. Therefore, gather your ingredients, follow these step-by-step directions, and delight your taste buds with the delectable flavour of authentic South African oxtail stew. Have fun!

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