How Al Roker Uses Oxtail Meat For Tacos

Whether it's on the food hour of "TODAY," on his Food Network show "Roker on the Road," or in one of his cookbooks, Al Roker is a big fan of tacos. The NBC correspondent even described them as "handheld meals" in a "TODAY" cooking segment, featuring the recipe for his low-carb roasted red snapper tacos. 

Roker's oxtail tacos certainly live up to that description, too, considering they contain the ingredients of another "big, heavy honkin' meal," aka his mother's hearty oxtail stew with dumplings (via TODAY). "It's really a cold-weather recipe, so I decided to adapt it for the warm weather months by turning it into tacos," he shared on the show. Employing the help of his daughter Courtney, a professional chef, Roker turned the stew into a taco by swapping tomato paste for diced tomatoes, flour dumplings for flour tortillas, and most importantly, a five-hour braise for 50 minutes in an Instant Pot pressure cooker.

Oxtail is Al Roker's comfort food

Al Roker's oxtail taco recipe takes a shortcut by using an Instant Pot to cook the meat and more basic ingredients compared to his mother's original stew. This is because Roker is big on simple comfort food. "It's more about the stories behind the food," he told Food & Wine about his approach to cooking. "Some cook to impress. I cook for people to enjoy the food." When he cooks oxtail for his family, it's to keep his mother's memory alive. But while Roker isn't the type to spend all day in the kitchen like his mother, his oxtail sure tastes like he did.

After pressure cooking it for 50 minutes in beef broth, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, the meat becomes perfectly shreddable and as tender as it would be if it were slow-cooked for hours. Roker said the tacos can be served with whatever toppings you like, but he lets the oxtail shine and only adds sour cream, shredded cheese, and diced tomatoes. In a taco or in a stew, not only does oxtail taste great, according to Roker, it's also the ultimate comfort food.