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Thursday, 11 February 2021

RECIPE. The Perfect Recipe for Chinese New Year of the Ox

The Perfect Recipe for Chinese New Year of the Ox
By: Malaga Foodie

Today is Chinese New Year - The Year of the OX (牛) and 2021 is also a Lunar New Year

The Ox (牛) is the second of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox. Thus, Ox became the second animal.

The year of the Ox got me thinking and my thoughts led me to the famous and delicious Rabo de Toro (Oxtail cooked in a rich sauce)

Oxtail is an exquisite meat product given its collagen content. Although the meat itself requires intense cooking (I favour a pressure cooker or a slow cooker is fine, just add more time for the unctuous meat)

My recipe (always the easy way) gives more than a nod to the traditional Rabo de Toro of the Gastronomic Brotherhood of ​​Córdoba where tradition sees the meat come from the bulls that used to fight in the square. While there are many regional recipes from my research it seems that they all stemmed from the Cordovan.

The Cordovan dish is characterised by being softer than those from the north, mainly because the original recipe involves macerating the meat in wine overnight, and for the type of wine used. I normally pontificate that you do not need good wine in the majority of sauces, particularly if you are a home cook but where Rabo de Toro is concerned you need good Red Wine, two reasons 1) You are marinating the meat in the wine overnight and then you have to cook the meat in the wine for four hours. That intensity the meat takes on the flavour of the wine - hence you need a good one. My preference is a Rioja or Toro however purists insist on Ribera del Duero.

Like almost all stews, it is preferable to prepare the oxtail a la Cordobesa, on the eve of the day it is to be consumed, since the flavours settle and it is richer and more unctuous. To do this, we start by cleaning and polishing the oxtails, removing the fat and harder areas.

Because we need intensity and tenderness with the meat I recommend using a pressure or slow cooker.


1 kg Oxtail
2 carrots
3 leeks (just the white part)
3 onions
2 ripe tomatoes
4 whole garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary 
Sea Salt
Ground Pepper
4 Squares of high cocoa content dark chocolate
Wine 1.5l of Rioja or Toro
Beef stock (A beef stockpot or similar is perfect)


1. (Day Before!) Put the Oxtail into a stainless steel bowl and add all the wine
and a couple of grinds of sea salt and the same with ground black pepper and a bayleaf.

2. (Next day) Remove the meat from the wine and pat dry with kitchen roll. Put to one side 

3. Prepare a Sofrito (Mirepoix) by chopping the Carrots, Leak and Onion into a brunoise (fine chop)

4. Heat some good olive oil in a large steel frying pan and add the Mirepoix and the whole garlic
cloves. When the onions become translucent add the tomatoes chopped (tinned tomatoes will work but fresh is better!)

5. Add the Oxtail and brown on all sides on a medium heat.

6. When the Oxtail is golden brown transfer the Sofrito, the garlic cloves, tomatoes  and the oxtail to your Pressure cooker. Pour over the wine you used to marinate. Add the bay leaves, the sprig of rosemary, the beef stock and the dark chocolate and finally half a pint of water and season.

In my pressure cooker I allow for 1 hour.

The Oxtail is cooked when it is loose against the bone.
Remove the bay leaves, rosemary and if you aren't a garlic lover the garlic cloves stir to combine all the flavours. Some would remove the meat from the pot and use a chinoise or stick blender to make the sauce smooth. For me the rustic makeup of the vegetables adds to the flavour and ambience of the dish.

The best accompaniment in my book with Rabo de Toro is creamy mashed potato but to maintain the rustic theme try making your mash with olive oil instead of butter.

Enjoy and let me know how you get on with it on my Twitter feed @malagafoodie 

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