Dominican Oxtail Recipe

Authentic Dominican Oxtail Recipe: A Flavorful Journey into Dominican Cuisine's Rich Tradition

Dominican Oxtail

    Dominican Oxtail

  • Cuisine: Dominican
  • Category: Main Dish, Stew
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Servings: 6
  • Calories: 450 calories

About this recipe

Dominican oxtail, also known as "Rabo Encendido," is a flavorful and hearty dish that holds a special place in Dominican cuisine. It is a popular and beloved recipe that showcases the rich and tender meat from the tail of a cow.

To prepare Dominican oxtail, you start by seasoning the oxtail pieces with salt and pepper. This helps to enhance the natural flavors of the meat. Then, you brown the oxtail in a pot or Dutch oven to give it a nice sear, which adds depth and complexity to the overall taste.

After removing the oxtail from the pot, you sauté a mixture of onions, garlic, and bell peppers until they become tender and slightly caramelized. This combination of aromatics creates a fragrant base for the stew.

Next, you add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, allowing them to cook down and release their juices, contributing to the sauce's vibrant color and tangy flavor.

Once the oxtail is returned to the pot, a medley of spices is added, including dried oregano, ground cumin, paprika, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes. These spices infuse the meat with warmth and aromatic notes that are characteristic of Dominican cuisine.

To ensure the oxtail becomes tender and succulent, you pour in beef broth and red wine (optional) to create a flavorful braising liquid. The oxtail is then simmered gently for several hours, allowing the meat to become fork-tender and absorb all the delicious flavors from the sauce.

As it cooks, the oxtail releases its gelatinous properties, resulting in a rich and velvety texture.

Towards the end of the cooking process, the sauce thickens, intensifying in flavor. You may adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences, and once the oxtail is tender, the dish is ready to be served.

Dominican oxtail stew is often enjoyed hot and garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley, which adds a bright and herbaceous touch. It is commonly served with white rice, beans, and fried plantains, creating a satisfying and complete meal.

Dominican oxtail is a cherished dish that showcases the flavors and culinary traditions of the Dominican Republic. Its slow-cooked meat, robust sauce, and aromatic spices come together to create a truly comforting and delicious experience for those fortunate enough to savor it.

Recipe origin and background

The Dominican oxtail recipe, also known as "Rabo Encendido," has its origins in the Dominican Republic, a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. The dish is deeply rooted in Dominican culinary traditions and reflects the country's history, culture, and influences.

Oxtail itself has a long history as a culinary ingredient and was traditionally considered a cheaper cut of meat. It became popular in various cuisines around the world, including the Caribbean, where resourcefulness and maximizing the use of ingredients are common practices.

In the Dominican Republic, oxtail became a beloved and cherished ingredient, particularly in traditional stews and braised dishes.

The flavors and techniques used in the Dominican oxtail recipe have been influenced by African, Spanish, and indigenous Taíno cultures, which have all played a significant role in shaping the country's cuisine.

African culinary traditions, in particular, have had a significant impact on Dominican cooking, including the use of robust spices and slow-cooking methods.

Dominican oxtail stew is a testament to the resourcefulness of Dominican cooks who transformed a tougher cut of meat into a flavorful and satisfying dish. The slow braising process allows the oxtail to become tender and results in a rich, flavorful sauce that complements the meat beautifully.

Today, Dominican oxtail remains a staple dish in Dominican households and is also enjoyed in restaurants both in the Dominican Republic and in Dominican communities around the world. It is a dish that holds cultural significance and is often prepared for special occasions, family gatherings, and celebrations.

The recipe has also gained popularity among food enthusiasts worldwide, as people appreciate the unique flavors and textures that Dominican oxtail offers. It represents a fusion of influences, techniques, and ingredients that have come together to create a delicious and beloved dish in Dominican cuisine.

Why try this Dominican Oxtail recipe?

There are handful of reasons why you should give the Dominican oxtail recipe a try:

  1. Unique and Delicious Flavors: Dominican oxtail stew offers a distinct and delicious flavor profile that combines the richness of oxtail meat with a savory and aromatic sauce. The blend of spices, herbs, and vegetables creates a harmonious and satisfying taste experience that is truly unique to Dominican cuisine.
  2. Tender and Succulent Meat: Oxtail is known for its gelatinous texture and marbling, which results in incredibly tender and flavorful meat. Through the slow cooking process, the oxtail becomes fork-tender, allowing the meat to practically melt in your mouth. It's a delightful experience to savor each bite of the tender oxtail.
  3. Cultural Exploration: Trying the Dominican oxtail recipe is a way to immerse yourself in the culinary traditions of the Dominican Republic. Food is an essential part of a country's culture, and by preparing and enjoying this dish, you get a taste of the history, flavors, and influences that have shaped Dominican cuisine.
  4. Comforting and Satisfying Meal: Dominican oxtail stew is a hearty and comforting dish that is perfect for colder months or when you're craving a filling and satisfying meal. It pairs well with white rice, beans, and fried plantains, creating a complete and satisfying plate.
  5. Cooking Experience and Skill Development: Making the Dominican oxtail recipe allows you to enhance your cooking skills and try your hand at slow-cooking techniques. It provides an opportunity to learn about braising, layering flavors, and achieving the perfect balance of spices and seasonings.
  6. Sharing with Others: Dominican oxtail stew is often prepared for special occasions, family gatherings, and celebrations in Dominican culture. By preparing this dish, you can share a delicious and culturally significant meal with your loved ones, creating memorable experiences and fostering connections.

Ultimately, trying the Dominican oxtail recipe is a chance to embark on a culinary adventure, expand your palate, and enjoy a flavorful and comforting dish that is beloved in Dominican cuisine.

What does Dominican Oxtail taste like?

Dominican oxtail stew offers a rich and deeply satisfying taste that is truly unique. The combination of flavors and textures creates a delicious and complex profile.

The oxtail itself has a rich and meaty taste. It is a cut of meat that is known for its gelatinous texture and marbling, which adds richness and depth to the dish. Through the slow cooking process, the oxtail becomes incredibly tender, allowing the meat to practically melt in your mouth.

The sauce of Dominican oxtail is robust and savory. It is infused with a medley of spices, including oregano, cumin, thyme, and paprika. These spices contribute warm and aromatic notes that permeate the meat and sauce, enhancing the overall flavor profile. The spices also bring a hint of earthiness and a touch of heat, although the spiciness can be adjusted according to personal preference.

The sauce is further enriched by the combination of onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes, and tomato paste. These ingredients create a savory and slightly tangy base that complements the oxtail perfectly. The natural sweetness of the tomatoes helps balance the flavors and adds a touch of acidity.

The taste of Dominican oxtail is deeply savory, meaty, and aromatic. It is a harmonious blend of spices, tender meat, and a flavorful sauce that comes together to create a truly satisfying and comforting dish. The richness and complexity of flavors make it a beloved and sought-after recipe in Dominican cuisine.

What is in Dominican Oxtail?

  • Oxtail: Oxtail refers to the tail of a cow and is known for its rich flavor and gelatinous texture. It's a tougher cut of meat that becomes tender and succulent when slow-cooked.
  • Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is used for browning the oxtail and sautéing the aromatics. It helps add flavor and promotes even cooking.
  • Onion, Garlic, and Bell Pepper: These aromatic vegetables form the base of the stew, providing savory flavors and enhancing the overall taste.
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Paste: Chopped tomatoes and tomato paste contribute acidity and sweetness to the sauce, adding depth and richness to the dish.
  • Spices: The spices used in Dominican oxtail stew include dried oregano, ground cumin, paprika, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes. These spices infuse the meat and sauce with aromatic and earthy flavors.
  • Beef Broth: Beef broth serves as the liquid for braising the oxtail, adding depth and richness to the sauce. It helps tenderize the meat and enhances the overall flavor.
  • Red Wine (optional): Red wine can be added to the stew for additional depth of flavor and complexity. It complements the richness of the oxtail and intensifies the sauce.
  • Bay Leaves: Bay leaves add a subtle herbal note to the stew. They infuse the dish with their unique fragrance and flavor.
  • Salt and Pepper: These common seasonings are used to season the oxtail and adjust the overall taste to your preference.
  • Fresh Cilantro or Parsley (optional): Fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley can be used as a garnish for added freshness and visual appeal.

Equipment required for this recipe

  • Large, Heavy-Bottomed Pot or Dutch Oven: This is essential for browning the oxtail, sautéing the aromatics, and simmering the stew. It should have a tight-fitting lid to retain heat and moisture. If you don't have a large pot or Dutch oven, you can use a deep skillet or a wide, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Just ensure that it has enough space to accommodate the oxtail and the stew ingredients.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: These utensils are useful for stirring and combining the ingredients as you cook the stew.
  • Cutting Board and Knife: You will need a cutting board to chop the onions, garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes. A sharp knife is necessary for cutting through the oxtail pieces.
  • Measuring Spoons: Measuring spoons are handy for accurately portioning out the spices and other ingredients.
  • Ladle or Large Spoon: A ladle or large spoon is useful for transferring the stew into serving bowls or plates.
  • Serving Bowls or Plates: These are needed to serve the Dominican oxtail stew. Any large, deep bowls or plates can serve as alternatives.
  • Optional: Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker: While not necessary, you can use a slow cooker or pressure cooker as an alternative cooking method. Adjust the cooking time and instructions accordingly based on the specific appliance you are using.

How to make Dominican Oxtail

Discover the authentic flavors of Dominican cuisine with our mouthwatering oxtail recipe. Tender meat, aromatic spices, and a taste of tradition!


  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds oxtail pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine (optional)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Season the oxtail pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Brown the oxtail pieces in the hot oil on all sides until nicely seared. This step helps develop flavor. Remove the oxtail from the pot and set it aside.
  3. In the same pot, add the chopped onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Sauté until they become tender and lightly browned.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot, stirring well to combine. Cook for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to break down.
  5. Return the oxtail to the pot and add the dried oregano, ground cumin, paprika, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat the oxtail pieces with the spices.
  6. Pour in the beef broth and red wine (if using). Add the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  7. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and let it simmer gently for about 3 to 4 hours or until the oxtail is tender. Stir occasionally and add more broth or water if needed to maintain the desired consistency.
  8. Once the oxtail is tender, remove the lid and continue simmering for an additional 20 to 30 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  9. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  10. Serve the Dominican oxtail stew hot, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley if desired. It pairs well with white rice, beans, and fried plantains.

How to serve Dominican Oxtail

  1. Prepare Accompaniments: Before serving the stew, you can prepare some traditional Dominican accompaniments to complement the flavors. This often includes white rice, beans (such as red kidney beans or black beans), and fried plantains. Cook the rice and beans according to your preferred method, and fry the plantains until they are golden and caramelized.
  2. Garnish: Optional, but you can garnish the stew with some fresh cilantro or parsley. Roughly chop the herbs and sprinkle them over the stew to add a pop of freshness and color.
  3. Portioning: Ladle the Dominican oxtail stew into individual serving bowls or deep plates. Make sure to include a generous amount of tender oxtail pieces and flavorful sauce in each serving.
  4. Plating: If you're serving the stew with rice, you can place a mound of cooked rice alongside the oxtail stew in each bowl or plate. The rice will absorb the savory sauce and provide a comforting base for the stew. Additionally, you can arrange some fried plantain slices on the side.
  5. Serve: Place the bowls or plates on the dining table and serve the Dominican oxtail stew while it's still hot. Consider providing additional condiments such as hot sauce or lime wedges for those who want to add an extra kick or tanginess to their stew.
  6. Enjoy: Invite your guests or family members to dig in and savor the flavors of the Dominican oxtail stew. Encourage them to mix the tender oxtail meat with the sauce and rice to fully enjoy the richness and depth of the dish.

Rated: 4.9 of 5.0 from 498 reviews.

Recipe Tags: Dominican Oxtail, Dominican Oxtail Recipe, Recipe, Dominican oxtail stew, Rabo Encendido, Rabo Encendido Recipe, Top rated

What to serve Dominican Oxtail with

This Dominican oxtail stew pairs well with a variety of side dishes that complement its rich flavors. Here are some traditional accompaniments and other options you can serve with Dominican oxtail stew:

  1. White Rice: Serve the stew with fluffy white rice. The rice can be plain or seasoned with garlic, herbs, or a squeeze of lime juice for added flavor.
  2. Beans: Dominican cuisine often includes beans as a staple side dish. You can serve the stew with a side of cooked red kidney beans, black beans, or pigeon peas. Season the beans with herbs, spices, and sautéed onions for extra taste.
  3. Fried Plantains: Fried plantains are a popular side in Dominican cuisine. Slice ripe plantains and fry them until golden and caramelized. They provide a delightful contrast of sweetness to the savory stew.
  4. Tostones: Tostones are twice-fried green plantains. They are crispy and savory, and they can be served alongside the stew for added texture and flavor. Simply slice green plantains, fry them, flatten them, and fry them again until crispy.
  5. Yuca/Cassava: Boiled or fried yuca, also known as cassava, is another delicious side dish that pairs well with Dominican oxtail stew. Yuca has a starchy texture and mild flavor that complements the robust flavors of the stew.
  6. Avocado Salad: Prepare a refreshing avocado salad with diced avocados, tomatoes, red onions, and a drizzle of lime juice and olive oil. The cool and creamy avocado balances the richness of the stew.
  7. Green Salad: Serve a simple green salad with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a light vinaigrette dressing. The fresh and crisp salad provides a refreshing contrast to the hearty stew.
  8. Bread: Crusty bread, such as baguette slices or dinner rolls, can be served on the side for dipping into the flavorful sauce of the stew. It's a great way to soak up the delicious juices.

Anyway, these are just suggestions, and you can mix and match side dishes according to your preference. The goal is to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal that complements the flavors of the Dominican oxtail stew. Enjoy exploring different combinations and finding what you enjoy most!

My recommendations and tips

  1. Choose Fresh and Quality Ingredients: Opt for fresh oxtail and vegetables to ensure the best flavor in your stew. Look for well-marbled oxtail pieces and ripe, flavorful tomatoes. Fresh herbs and spices will also enhance the overall taste.
  2. Take Time for Browning: When browning the oxtail before simmering, make sure to give it enough time to develop a rich, deep brown color. This step adds flavor and richness to the stew.
  3. Slow and Low Cooking: Dominican oxtail stew is best cooked slowly over low heat. This allows the oxtail to become tender and lets the flavors meld together. Patience is key to achieving a delicious result.
  4. Adjust Spices to Taste: The listed spices in the recipe serve as a guideline, but feel free to adjust them to your preference. You can increase or decrease the amount of spices or add other seasonings to suit your taste buds.
  5. Skimming Fat: As the stew simmers, some fat may rise to the surface. Skim off excess fat periodically to reduce the richness and achieve a balanced consistency.
  6. Make Ahead for Enhanced Flavor: Like many stews, Dominican oxtail stew often tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to develop. Consider making it ahead of time and reheating it when ready to serve.
  7. Serve with Traditional Accompaniments: To enhance the experience, serve the stew with traditional Dominican accompaniments like white rice, beans, and fried plantains. These sides complement the flavors and provide a complete meal.
  8. Personalize and Experiment: While the traditional recipe is delicious, don't hesitate to add your own personal touch. You can add additional vegetables, herbs, or spices to customize the stew to your liking. Feel free to experiment and make it your own!
  9. Enjoy and Share: Dominican oxtail stew is best enjoyed with loved ones. Gather your family or friends, share the meal, and savor the flavors together. It's a dish that brings people together and creates lasting memories.

Potential ingredients substitutes

  • Oxtail Substitute: If you're unable to find oxtail, you can use beef short ribs or beef stew meat as a substitute. While the texture and flavor will be slightly different, they will still result in a delicious stew.
  • Vegetable Oil Substitute: Vegetable oil can be replaced with other cooking oils like canola oil, sunflower oil, or even olive oil. Choose a neutral-tasting oil that can withstand high heat for browning the meat.
  • Onion Substitute: If you don't have onions, you can use shallots or leeks as a substitute. They provide a similar savory flavor and can be used in equal quantities.
  • Garlic Substitute: If you run out of fresh garlic, you can use garlic powder or granulated garlic as a substitute. Use approximately 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove of fresh garlic.
  • Bell Pepper Substitute: If you don't have bell peppers, you can use poblano peppers or cubanelle peppers as alternatives. These peppers have a mild and slightly sweet flavor that complements the stew.
  • Tomatoes and Tomato Paste Substitute: If you don't have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned diced tomatoes as a substitute. As for tomato paste, you can use tomato sauce or tomato puree in its place. Adjust the quantities to achieve the desired consistency and flavor.
  • Beef Broth Substitute: If you don't have beef broth on hand, you can use beef bouillon cubes or beef stock as substitutes. Dissolve the bouillon cubes in water according to the package instructions or use beef stock in equal quantities.
  • Red Wine Substitute: Red wine adds depth and complexity to the stew, but if you prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute it with additional beef broth or water. The stew will still be flavorful and delicious.
  • Fresh Herbs Substitute: If you don't have fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, or cilantro, you can use dried herbs instead. Keep in mind that dried herbs are more concentrated, so use approximately one-third of the amount specified for fresh herbs.
  • Salt and Pepper Substitute: Salt and pepper are common seasonings that can be adjusted to taste. If needed, you can substitute table salt with kosher salt or sea salt. For black pepper, you can use ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes for a touch of heat.

What more?

  • Cooking Time and Tenderness: Oxtail is a tough cut of meat that requires slow cooking to become tender and develop its rich flavor. The cooking time can vary depending on the size and quality of the oxtail. It's recommended to cook the stew for at least 2-3 hours, but it may take longer for the meat to become fork-tender. Be patient and allow enough time for the oxtail to reach the desired tenderness.
  • Make-Ahead and Freezing: Dominican oxtail stew can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a day or two before serving. This can actually enhance the flavors as the stew has more time to meld together. It can also be frozen in airtight containers for longer-term storage. When ready to use, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it gently on the stovetop.
  • Flavor Development: Like many stews, the flavors of Dominican oxtail stew tend to deepen and improve over time. If possible, consider making the stew a day in advance to allow the flavors to meld together and intensify. The result will be a more flavorful and satisfying dish.
  • Adjusting the Consistency: If you find the stew is too thick, you can add a little water or beef broth to thin it out to your desired consistency. On the other hand, if you prefer a thicker stew, you can simmer it uncovered for a bit longer to reduce the liquid and thicken the sauce.
  • Storing Leftovers: If you have leftovers, store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator. The stew will keep well for 3-4 days. Reheat individual portions on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through.
  • Flavor Variation: While the traditional Dominican oxtail stew recipe is delicious on its own, you can also experiment with adding additional ingredients to customize the flavors. For example, you can incorporate diced carrots, potatoes, or other vegetables into the stew for added texture and flavor. Feel free to adapt the recipe to suit your taste preferences and make it your own.
  • Cultural Significance: Dominican oxtail stew holds cultural significance in Dominican cuisine. It is often served during special occasions, family gatherings, and holidays. By preparing and enjoying this dish, you are immersing yourself in the culinary traditions and flavors of the Dominican Republic.

Final Remark

Indulge in the savory delights of Dominican oxtail stew, a classic dish that will transport you to the heart of Dominican cuisine. Try our recipe and savor the rich flavors, tender meat, and comforting aromas. Experience the culinary magic of the Dominican Republic in every bite!

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