Recipe courtesy of The Gift of Southern Cooking
Serves 4 to 6
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The rich flavor and luscious texture of oxtails develops through patient, slow cooking. We cook them in the oven, with vegetables and seasonings, for almost 4 hours, until the meat is meltingly tender. Serve over grits or rice.
Rinse the oxtails, and dry well with paper towels. Heat the lard in a large sauce pan until it is quite hot but not smoking. Brown the oxtails in the hot fat, turning until deeply browned on all sides. Remove to a baking dish just large enough to hold the oxtails comfortably in a single layer. Sprinkle the dried thyme and salt and pepper over the meat.
Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the cooking fat from the sauce pan. Add the chopped onions and cook over medium-high heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a large wooden spoon to dislodge any flavorful browned bits. Add the celery, carrots, and garlic, and continue cooking, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to brown. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Check the vegetables for seasoning and adjust if needed; then spoon them over the oxtails. Pour the stock or water over all. Place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of the oxtails and vegetables, and a piece of foil directly on top of the parchment. Cover the baking dish with a tight-fitting lid or a double thickness of foil wrapped to cover tightly. Place in a preheated 300°F oven and bake for 3½-4 hours, until oxtails are very tender. Spoon off any visible pools of far, check for seasoning, and serve hot over rice or grits.