This very traditional and homestyle reipe for a stick-to-your-ribs oxtail stew comes from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, where winter nights are cold and often damp, and where rabada is much loved.
As with all traditional recipes, everyone has their favorite was of making rabada, and heated discussions occur in the kitchen (or today, even online) as to whether cachaça is an obligatory or an optional addition, and whether or not root vegetables should be added to the stew. This recipe, though, is a fairly standard one and shouldn't displease anyone. Feel free to add to subtract ingredients, or to adjust quantities depending on your mood, the amount of time available, or simply on your whim.
RECIPE - Mineiro-style Oxtail Stew (Rabada)
4 lbs (2 kg) oxtail, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick slices
1 cup (250 ml) fresh-squeezed lime juice (can substitute lemon juice)
1 cup (250 ml) cachaça
1/2 cup (125 ml) neutral vegetable oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 large manioc root (macaxeira), peeled and cut into chunks (can substitute potatoes)
salt to taste
1 Tbsp. annatto powder (can substitute sweet red paprika)
2 bay leaves
Wash the oxtail well in warm water. Place in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, cover with cold water, then add the lime juice and cachaça. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and cook at a slow boil for 15 minutes. Remove the oxtail from the cooking liquid, rinse it well in hot water and reserve.
In another large saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and onion, turn down heat and saute for a minute or two. Increase the heat, then add the reserved oxtail. Stirring constantly, cook until the oxtail is nicely browned on all sides. Sprinkle the oxtail with annatto powder, add the bay leaves to the pot, then add water slowly - add just enough to half-cover the meat. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for about 1 and 1/2 hours at lowest heat, adding water as needed to avoid the dish drying out. Add the vegetables, then continue to cook for about 30 minutes.
When the oxtail is very tender (almost falling off the bone) and the vegetables are cooked remove the pot from the heat. Let rest a minute or two, then correct the seasoning with salt. Serve immediately accompanied by white rice and angu, or other side dishes of your preference. Red wine is the drink of choice in Minas Gerais when rabada is served.
Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.