Oxtail is the culinary term for the tail of the cattle. While many people throw that part of the animal away, it is considered a delicacy in many cultures and cuisines around the world.
The history of eating oxtail probably started from Spain 100 years ago, more and more people today have discovered how good it tastes and that has increased the demand for it.
Today, many people practice a more mindful way of consuming meat, and they try to use the whole animal instead of wasting parts of it. This trend is known as “nose to tail” eating, and it has become the practice of many top chefs.
It’s a backlash against wasteful food consumerism. Throwing out certain parts of the animal makes no sense either environmentally or economically.
Why Are Oxtails So Expensive?
To maximize the sustenance we receive from the animal is a way of honoring it.
If we don’t utilize the whole animal, much of it is wasted, and we are not showing respect for it as a living creature.
So, by eating the oxtail, we are practicing mindful consumerism and encouraging a way of thinking that fights waste and increases appreciation for the creatures that help sustain us.
There are a few reasons why oxtails are expensive from your local supermarket or butcher.
While there are about 750 pounds of meat on one cow, the tail is probably only about 6 pounds of that, once it has been skinned and butchered. This makes it a highly specialized, scarce cut of beef.
If you order an oxtail dish from a restaurant, it will be so expensive that the large proportion of bone it contains.
2. Cooking process
Oxtails require a lengthy cooking period a certain amount of skill to cook them properly. Not everyone has the patience and skill that are needed to transform an oxtail into a delicious dish.
It can take between 3 to 5 hours to cook an oxtail enough to become tender and the meat falls off the bone.
After that, it usually needs to be cooled and chilled so that the fat can be skimmed from the top. You can see why restaurants charge so much more for an oxtail dish than an ordinary beef dish.
3. Demand exceeds supply
Even though the oxtail was a shunned part of the animal a century ago, it has a very distinctive flavor that many people today have acquired for and now cannot get enough of.
The high demand has made it one of the more exclusive dishes in restaurants that everyone wants to get their hands on.
Its rich, sweet meatiness is delicious and keeps people coming back for more. Of course, as with anything, when demand exceeds the supply, the price goes up.
4. A social trend
Remember the high spike in demand for oysters and snails that seemingly came out of nowhere? They became one of the most luxurious seafood items.
The same has happened with oxtails as well, and they have grown to be the latest trendy meal of the rich and famous.
Even those who don’t especially like the taste are putting oxtail on the table for social occasions to impress business clients or friends.
How Can Home Cooks Afford Them?
Despite its high price, oxtail is perfect for making a warm, hearty stew in your pressure cooker or slow cooker. It’s something that your whole family will enjoy.
While most of us will not be able to afford it weekly, there are ways of making it affordable.
- Prepare it in your own Instant Pot and save electricity costs.
- Oxtail is strongly flavored. This means you can use a half quantity and mix it with a cheaper cut of beef like a short rib or chuck. Your dish will still have that distinctive oxtail flavor.
- Add potatoes, carrots, and onions to the dish to “stretch” it. Alternatively, you can cook it with a few handfuls of barley to thicken the gravy and bulk up the dish. They will complement the taste and make the meat go further.
We hope this sheds some light for you on why oxtail is such a costly cut of beef. Hopefully, you will enjoy trying the affordable ways of cooking this delicious meat!