A bowl of oxtails is like a warm hug from my childhood, says chef Kwame Onwuachi of Kith/Kin restaurant in D.C. “It’s my favorite Jamaican dish, and a good reminder of how complex and flavorful our food is.” Don’t rule out this recipe just because you can’t find oxtails. Any fatty and rich bone-in braising cut, from short ribs to duck legs, would be a great substitute; just be prepared to shorten the cook time.
2½ lb. oxtails (4–5 large or 6–7 medium), cut by your butcher about 2″ thick
2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch scallions, trimmed, cut into 2″ pieces
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
1–2 Scotch bonnet chiles or other hot chiles (optional)
A small handful of thyme sprigs
1 3″ piece ginger, scrubbed, sliced ⅛” thick
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. light or dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. ground allspice or 2 tsp. allspice berries
1 15-oz. can butter beans or other white beans, rinsed
Coconut Rice and Assembly
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp. light or dark brown sugar
2 cups jasmine or other long-grain white rice, rinsed until water runs clear
1 cup pigeon peas or red kidney beans from a can, rinsed
Sliced scallions or chives (for serving)
Preheat oven to 250°. Place oxtails in a medium bowl and season generously with salt. Sprinkle with curry powder and toss to coat completely. Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Cook oxtails, turning as needed, until deeply browned all over, 10–12 minutes. Add broth, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pot. Add scallions, garlic, chiles (if using), thyme, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar, and allspice. Bring to a simmer, partially cover pot, and transfer to oven. Braise oxtails, turning once or twice and adding a splash of water if pot is looking dry, until fork-tender and meat is beginning to fall apart, about 7 hours.
Carefully transfer oxtails to a plate. Fish out and discard chiles. Skim fat from surface of braising liquid, then return to a boil over medium-high. Simmer until liquid coats a spoon, 5–8 minutes. Add beans to liquid; season with salt.
Coconut Rice and Assembly
Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook garlic and ginger, stirring often, until softened and very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, brown sugar, and 1¾ cups water; season with salt. Add rice and pigeon peas and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Cook until rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 20–25 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes.
To serve, fluff rice with a fork and divide among plates. Top with oxtails and sauce and scatter scallions over.