Recipe for Oxtail, Carrot, and Barley Stew

This recipe, which I wrote about in Part Three of the Raising Adventurous Eaters series, is our #1 family favorite meal. The recipe evolved over time with my husband suggesting the addition of barley at some point and the kids wanting carrots in as many dishes as possible. With the addition of barley, it becomes a very thick stew, to the point that it could almost be considered a casserole. I never measure the seasonings, but rather, base the amounts on how the dish smells ... so feel free to deviate from what I've written here.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds oxtail (I get ours from Costco and like to leave the fat on, but you can trim it)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pound baby carrots
1-15.5 ounce can butter beans, drained
4 cups beef broth
1 cup barley

1. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper over the oxtail, preferably on the top and bottom.
2. Heat olive oil at 400 degrees Fahrenheit in the slow cooker and brown each side of the oxtail for 3 minutes each. I have a slow cooker with a browning function. If you don't, you can either skip this step or do it in a pan over medium-high heat.
3. Turn the slow cooker to high heat and add the oxtail, onion, scallion, and garlic. If you have a slow cooker with a browning function, switch over to the slow cooker setting.
4. Sprinkle the oxtail with 1/4 teaspoon salt, ginger, thyme, allspice, and soy sauce.
5. Fill the spaces between the oxtail with carrots and butter beans.
6. Pour the beef broth over everything.
7. Let cook for 3 hours, flip the ox tail over, and continue cooking until the meat separates easily from the bone, for at least another 3 hours. My slow cooker takes about 6 hours to get to this point, but you might even need between 8-10 hours. That's why I always start cooking this first thing in the morning, so it's ready by dinnertime.
8. Pull all the meat off the bones (I use tongs for this) and add 1/4 teaspoon salt and barley. Cook until barley is at the desired texture, probably for another 1 hour.

This recipe is very flexible, so you can change the amounts of the ingredients based on what you're able to buy and what you have. All the flavors and salt can be adjusted to your taste, and cooking for longer is better than cooking for shorter because the oxtail needs a lot of time to break down and get delicious.


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