The method of cooking oxtails determines the cooking time, but a minimum of two hours is typically the cooking time that ensures the oxtails are completely done and fork-tender. Oxtails are best braised, or cooked slightly submerged in fluid, and they work well in stews or stew-like dishes, such as curried oxtail.
Oxtail recipes often call for marinating and then browning the meat on all sides before braising it, so as to develop depth of flavor. A marinade can be as simple as soy sauce and a seasonings packet or more complex, such as black pepper, all-purpose seasoning, minced garlic and an optional amount of browning sauce.
To brown oxtails, consider adding a small amount of oil to a heavy-bottom skillet or a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Browning oxtails requires at least seven to 10 minutes total. The bones and marrow of the oxtail are the primary sources of its flavor. Extracting this flavor from the bone takes time, which is why braising is ideal.
Braising liquid can consist of any leftover marinade, chopped onions, garlic, herbs and water. Beef broth, red wine and a healthy dash of Worcestershire sauce make another tasty form of braising liquid. Any combination of water, aromatics, spices and a bit of acid suffices. As the oxtails braise, optionally add additional spices, tomatoes, carrots, scallions and legumes during the last half hour of cooking, such as butter beans. Braising oxtails atop the stove or in the oven both work out well.