Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rabo Encendido de Lilian (Ox-Tail)

Last week we went to our friend’s Marky’s house to learn how to make the Cuban classic – Rabo, or Ox Tail. The interesting thing is that Lilian, Marky’s mother-in-law and our teacher for the day isn’t Cuban! She was born and raised in El Salvador! While living there she never really cooked, however when she married a Cuban she learned – but she learned how to cook Cuban food.
Lucky for us because after she made it we ate it and it was delicious! While the “rabo” was cooking and later while we ate we chatted with Lilian and her husband Mario who worked in the beef business for many years and gave us all sorts of helpful “insider tips”. As always we had a wonderful meal and a wonderful time.
I want to clarify the name of the recipe. This is commonly called “Rabo Encendido” which roughly translates to “Tail on Fire”. I have always heard that it is called “Encendido” because it’s supposed to contain hot sauce. Now, traditional Cuban cooking doesn’t really use hot sauce as a staple – yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part our food is spicy from spices, but not “hot” in the Mexican sense. Therefore, this recipe does not contain hot sauce, but it can be added to taste if you like.
3 tbsp olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot)
6 lbs Fresh Beef Ox Tail – cut in package
2 tbsp Badia Sazón Completa (this can be replaced by any Cuban complete seasoning)
1 large green bell pepper – diced
1 large onion – diced
4 medium garlic cloves – mashed
2½ cups Edmundo Golden Cooking Wine (this can be replaced by any dry white wine)
1½ cups of water
salt to taste (if needed)
32 oz tomato sauce
2 packs Sazón Goya with Coriander and Annatto (this can be replaced with any seasoning with coriander and annato)


This recipe makes approximately 6 servings
  1. Add olive oil and meat to pot. Set on Medium heat until the meat browns.
  2. Set the temperature on High. Add complete seasoning, bell pepper and onion.
  3. Cook until onions and peppers wilt. Add garlic.
  4. Lower temperature to Medium High. Add wine and water to almost cover the meat.
  • NOTE: If more liquid is needed, add a mixture comprised of a higher wine to water ratio.
  1.  Cover until the mixture comes to a slow boil. 
  2. Stir and lower to Medium. Cover for about one hour, stirring approximately every 20 minutes until the meat can be pierced with a fork but not so tender it falls off the bone.
  4. Once the meat can be pierced with a fork raise the temperature to Medium High, taste for salt (add to taste if needed) and cover.
  5. Begin to check the meat often, continue boiling until the meat is fork tender and the liquid has reduced to about half.
  6. Add tomato sauce and Sazón.
  7. Continue cooking on Medium for about half an hour until the liquid has thickened into sauce.

Serve with white rice.

¡Buen provecho!

image sources: ox tail, Badia Sazón Completa, Edmundo Golden Cooking Wine, Sazon Goya.