Rabo encendido or rabo guisado is a rich, vegetable-rich spicy oxtail stew recipe. This is a very delectable dish that we typically serve on special occasions due to the time it takes to prepare. I can tell you, however, that every minute it takes to make it is worth it in the end.
Why we ❤️ it
This rabo guisado dominicano is one of a few spicy dishes in our cuisine. It is a very rich, very strongly-flavored stew. If you ever have a bunch of people showing up for dinner, and a lot of time on your hands, this is a stew that should be in your arsenal.
And if you've never tried oxtail, then you've missed out on an amazing thing. Oxtail is a creamy, tender, flaky beef cut with tons of flavor. You need to start hitting up your butcher for that good stuff and putting it on rotation.
What's rabo encendido?
Rabo encendido is Spanish for "tail on fire", translated literally, and is a stew that is made from oxtail (beef tail) with a rich tomato sauce.
Though popular in the Dominican Republic, rabo encendido is also a dish served in Cuba, and it makes an appearance on our list of Dominican dishes with strange names.
How it's made
The oxtail is seasoned in a marinade with ground oregano, cubanelle pepper, garlic paste, onion, cilantro, and other herbs. The meat is then braised until the meat is flaky and can be pulled off the bone with just a fork, then finished by making a thick sauce with tomato sauce or tomato paste and some vegetables.
Some ingredients are a must, while others are optional and vary from home to home. Some people, for example, prefer red bell pepper over cubanelle pepper. Cubans love adding some bay leaves while it's braising (good stuff, do that). Some people love some allspice berries in theirs, but I reserve that for other soups like sopa boba (Dominican vegetable soup) and sopa de hueso (beef bone soup).
Rabo guisado (oxtail stew).
- You can shorten the preparation time by using a pressure cooker. Without the pressure cooker getting the meat tender enough (it has to fall off the bone) may take over an hour. With the pressure cooker, it will take about 25 minutes.
- If you are unsure how you will like it with the Scotch bonnet pepper (they are very spicy) use a bit of your favorite hot sauce or a sprinkling of red pepper flakes instead, and add to taste.
To cook in a pressure cooker, brown in a regular pot per recipe instructions. Then place in the pressure cooker and add enough water to cover the meat, plus two extra cups. When it comes to pressure cooking, it's better to have too much water than too little. I never start mine with less than a quart of water (1 liter).
Place the pressure cooker lid, seal, and start over high heat. Once the whistling starts, lower the heat to medium-low. Stop it 15 mins after it started whistling. Let it cool down (per manufacturer's instruction, then carefully remove the valve, and open it to check the meat for doneness. Repeat for another 15 minutes if necessary.
I love serving this with arroz blanco (Dominican rice), some avocado slices, and some tostones (twice-fried plantains). Other great side dish choices are yuca hervida (boiled cassava), or guineítos (savory green bananas). Some love a bit of casabe (cassava bread) on the side.
Storing and reheating
Like most soups and stews, the flavors in this one develop and mature if stored overnight in the fridge, and leftovers are always appreciated. It freezes well too, provided there it is done in an airtight container or bag.
You can reheat it on the stovetop prior to serving.
About this recipe
Rabo guisado is a dish that every home makes differently, and each home has its own version of this dish; some are simpler, and some are more complex. This is my preferred combination. Feel free to adapt it to your own family's taste and tradition.
This recipe yields 6 portions.
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[Recipe] Rabo Encendido or Rabo Guisado (Spicy Oxtail Stew)
- 4 lbs oxtail cut in the joints, [1.8 kg]
- 1 teaspoon oregano (dry, ground)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2¼ tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, (soy, corn, or peanut)
- 2 diced carrot
- 1 cup boiled chickpeas
- ¼ cup pitted green olives
- 2 large red onion, chopped
- 2 cubanela (cubanelle pepper), (cubanelle) peppers, chopped
- 4 sprigs thyme (fresh), (optional) remove the sticks, we'll just use the leaves
- 8 tomato, chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce, or 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 celery stalk, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ Scotch bonnet pepper, or habanero, crushed
- 4 sprigs parsley, minced or cilantro
- To season the oxtail, place it in a large bowl and add oregano, black pepper, lime juice, and a tablespoon of salt. Let it rest covered in the fridge for an hour or two.Once it has rested, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or, preferably, a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir in oxtail and cook stirring until it browns. It may release some liquid, just let it evaporate eventually and cook until it browns.
- After browning the oxtail, add a cup of water, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Reduce heat to medium and simmer covered until the meat is very tender, uncovering and stirring every 5 minutes or so, and adding small amounts of water as it becomes necessary to prevent it from scorching (see notes).
- When the meat is very tender (test with a fork) let the water reduce and add the carrots, chickpeas, olives, onion, cubanela pepper, thyme, tomatoes, tomato sauce, celery, garlic, and Scotch bonnet pepper to the pot.Cook stirring until onions become translucent. Add 1 ¼ cup of water, and simmer until the carrots are cooked through.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the parsley, then remove from the heat.Serve hot, oxtail has a lot of gelatin, so it will start to congeal once cooled down.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
Published Dec 16, 2004, revised