Signs That Your Oxtail Is Done Cooking

While most carnivorous home cooks will likely know their way around a pork loin or chicken breast, oxtail can be a meat that many are unfamiliar with cooking. However, the protein that comes from the tail of either beef cattle or veal, can be a delectable addition to your plate, as long as you know what to do with it (via The Spruce Eats). When it comes to cooking oxtail, the secret is to cook it low and slow, according to Food24. While you want to sear the exterior to get that delicious flavor, it's not the kind of meat that can be tossed into a pan and served up 10 minutes later. 

You want to allow the pieces to cook for a long time on low heat, which makes it a prime candidate for braising or cooking in a slow cooker. The way to tell if your oxtail is ready to serve, is similar to how you'd make that call for other meats that benefit from a low and slow cooking style — you want it to be soft and essentially falling off the bone. The amount of collagen within this particular cut also means that you can tell it's properly cooked when it has an almost jelly-like texture, and manages to fall apart with the prodding of a fork (via Chowhound). That's right — forget internal temperatures and complicated testing, all you really need to see is that the meat is fork-tender.

A few other things to consider when cooking oxtail

With low and slow cooking methods, there's more forgiveness in the cooking time. After all, your oxtail probably will be just fine if you leave it cooking a few minutes past when it's done, while meats that are cooked over high heat can become dry and tasteless in mere moments. However, there are a few factors that you should take into account before you even start cooking. First of all, recognize that while you might find fresh oxtail at a butcher, there are many stores where it's sold frozen, so you'll want to build in time for defrosting the meat (via Chowhound). 

And, when you're selecting your oxtail, try to be mindful of the size of the pieces. It's generally cut into small chunks, and as with any cut of meat, you'll want to try to find a package with pieces that are similar in size for even cooking. As for the cooking process, there are a few rules of thumb. Don't forget to brown your oxtail pieces before you begin to braise or slow cook them, as this step is essential in getting all that deep, rich flavor out of the protein. Additionally, be mindful not to take the bones out of the meat while everything is still hot, as this can cause the meat to dry out. You'll want to wait until things cool down a bit before removing the bone in the middle of each piece.