Basque Oxtail Stew

Simmered in red wine and aromatics until falling off the bone, this rustic braise is perfect for a blustery night.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    4 hours


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on June 13, 2024

Centuries of Basque immigrant culture are distilled into a meal at Bakersfield, California’s Wool Growers restaurant, where lunch is a parade of rib-sticking French Basque dishes. First, vegetable soup chock-full of cabbage and leeks; stewed pinto beans; a tomatoey “hot sauce.” Then marinated tomatoes, mixed greens, and a creamy slab of blue cheese. Finally, meat: tender beef tongue in a parsley-packed vinaigrette, or this oxtail stew loaded with sweet carrots and thickened with beurre manié, a mixture of softened butter and flour. Solid, satisfying, lovable: it’s just how we want this old-world cuisine to be.

Featured in the January/February 2014 issue.

Order the SAVEUR Selects Tri-ply Stainless Steel 8-Quart Stock Pot here.


  • 4 lb. oxtails, trimmed of excess fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • One 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 6 medium carrots, cut into ½-in. pieces
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour


Step 1

Season the oxtails to taste with salt and black pepper. In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it’s hot and shimmering. Working in batches, add the oxtails and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the oxtails to a plate and set aside.

Step 2

Add the garlic and onion to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add the wine and continue cooking, stirring and scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, until reduced by a third, 3–5 minutes. 

Step 3

Return the oxtails to the pot, add the stock and tomato sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer until the oxtails are tender, 2½–3 hours. 

Step 4

Uncover the pot and return to a simmer. Add the carrots and cook until tender, 15–20 minutes. 

Step 5

To a small bowl, add the butter and flour. Using your fingers or a fork, knead or mash the mixture until the flour is fully incorporated and a smooth paste forms. Stir the paste into the stew and cook until slightly thick, 8–10 minutes.

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