This rabo de toro recipe is a classic Spanish oxtail stew, which is super rich and perfect to serve as a Spanish tapa or a meal with potatoes. Rabo de toro al vino tinto is most commonly found in Southern Spain, in the region of Andalusia.
Traditional Recipe | One-Pot | Slow-Cooked On Stovetop
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Tools For This Recipe:
- Dutch oven: We have the 6.75 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven, which is the perfect size for this Spanish recipe
- Immersion or hand blender: This is to thicken the soup at the end.
- Garlic press: We have the Zulay garlic press and love it. No need to even peel the garlic.
- Cazuelas for serving
Check out our Spain Food Guide – What To Eat In Spain for more details on regional must-try dishes in Spain.
What Is Rabo De Toro
A classic Spanish stew, rabo de toro translates to Spanish bull tail. Referred to outside of Spain as oxtail stew, the results are the same, a rich and hearty stew sure to please.
Popular across Spain, it’s fairly common to find rabo de toro in Andalucia, in cities like Sevilla and Cordoba. The dish is often called rabo de toro estofado and is typically served with a heaping pile of french fries. Just be make to save room to soak up all the delicious sauce with fresh bread.
When living in Catalonia, canalones were all the rage. We often ate canelones de rabo de toro.
Rabo de toro is a Spanish dish with Roman roots. It’s believed to have been created during Roman times and brought to Andalusia in southern Spain by traders. Whether it’s from an ox, bull, or cow, the meat of the tail is rather gelatinous. After hours of slow cooking, all that tasty gelatinousness renders into the soup. As a result, the soup is super rich and filling.
Cooking Spanish Oxtail Stew
The key ingredient for a Spanish oxtail recipe is obviously the oxtail. Oxtail is actually the tail of a bull or cow (rabo de ternera, is the tail of a cow or beef tail). There is not a lot of meat on the bone. It’s more gelatinous, which is why it needs to be cooked slowly. Slow cooking makes the meat and the sauce super tender and rich. It’s similar to an Italian Osso Bucco recipe, which is also made with oxtail.
Oxtail was easy to find oxtail at our local butcher or supermarket while living in Spain. We had to special order it from the butcher living in Ireland. You might be able to find oxtail at higher-end supermarkets. If, find a local butcher and plan ahead. Ask the butcher to cut it into pieces like in the pictures here.
About a kilo, or two pounds, is a good amount and works for 6-8 tapas ports served with potatoes and bread. Or, this amount works for 4 servings as a main course. Because Spanish oxtail stew is so rich, I recommend it as part of a tapas night.
Check out some of our other classic Spanish tapas recipes:
Ingredients For This Rabo De Toro Recipe
This rabo recipe is pretty traditional. Although it can be cooked in an Instant Pot or a slow cooker, I like to go old school for my Spanish tapas recipes. This means cooked slow, over low heat, on the stovetop.
The oxtail is coated in salt, pepper, and a light dusting of flour. The flour helps to brown the meat and adds a bit of thickness to the sauce as it cooks. The oxtail is browned in a generous amount of olive oil, like almost every Spanish recipe. The only spices come from bay leaves and fresh thyme, which both add an earthiness to the rabo de toro recipe.
Vegetables for this recipe include yellow onion, garlic, carrots, celery, leek, and red pepper. All vegetables should be diced small. Although you will see some of the carrots and red pepper in the final sauce, most of the veg will sort of dissolve into the oxtail stew while cooking.
You can omit the leek or red pepper if you don’t have it at home, but I think these two vegetables add a lot of flavors. In particular, the red pepper adds a sweetness. I wouldn’t recommend substituting a green pepper, but if that is what you have, it’s okay.
The rabo de toro sauce is made with beef broth and dry, Spanish red wine, like tempranillo or a red from Rioja. The red wine, or vino tinto, is what makes this a rabo de toro al vino tinto, or Spanish oxtail made with red wine.
Water is added just to top up the broth when cooking to ensure the oxtail pieces stay submerged under the liquid.
How To Make Rabo Al Vino Tinto
This rabo al vino tino is a perfect weekend recipe because it slow cooks for hours on the stovetop.
Preparing The Oxtail
Start by dusting the oxtail lightly with flour, salt, and black pepper on all sides. Place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Warm the olive oil in the dutch oven. Place the oxtail into the dutch oven and brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes. You don’t need the oxtail to blacken, just to get some color. Remove the pieces of oxtail and set them aside.
Cooking The Oxtail
Add the onion, carrots, leek, and garlic into the dutch oven and coat in the olive oil. If you need to add a bit more olive oil, go ahead. Cook the vegetables in the oil and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes allowing the wine to cook off a bit.
Place the oxtail back into the dutch oven. Add the beef broth until the oxtail is covered. If you need to top it off with a bit of water to ensure the oxtail is covered, that’s okay. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 3-4 hours or until the meat starts to fall off the bone. You can test it by trying to lift a piece of oxtail from the pot and poke the meat with a fork. If it’s not super tender, keep it on the stovetop longer.
Finishing The Rabo De Toro – Immersion Blender
When the oxtail is ready, remove it from the liquid. Use an immersion blender to thicken the sauce. You can do this in the dutch oven on the stovetop. I prefer to remove the pot from the stovetop. Ensure the head of the immersion blender is completely submerged in the liquid or you will have a big mess on your hands. The oxtail sauce doesn’t need to be pureed and it’s okay if vegetables are still floating in the broth.
For extra thickness, you can add an additional tablespoon of flour and stir until dissolved. If adding flour, it’s best to return the dutch oven to the stovetop to allow the sauce to warm.
Place the oxtail on a serving dish and ladle the thickened sauce on top to serve. Serve with thick french fries or mashed potatoes and loads of crusty bread.
Reheating Rabo De Toro The Day After
If serving as part of a tapas night, you can prepare the oxtail the day ahead. I just keep it in the dutch oven overnight. Allow the dutch oven to come to room temperature for about an hour. This also allows the meat to come to room temperature. Place it over low heat and warm through, at least 30-60 minutes. Actually, I find that the oxtail is even better the second day.
- 2 pounds (1 kg) of oxtail, cut in pieces by the butcher
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 celery, diced
- 1 leek, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 3-4 cups of dry red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 cups of beef broth
- Water as needed
- Dust the oxtail with flour, salt, and black pepper on all sides.
- Place a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Warm the olive oil.
- Place the oxtail into the dutch oven and brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the dutch oven and place to the side.
- Add the onion, carrots, leek, and garlic into the dutch oven and coat in olive oil. Sweat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the red wine and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer for 3-5 minutes.
- Place the oxtail back into the dutch oven. Add the beef broth until the oxtail is covered.
- Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook covered for 3-4 hours or until the meat starts to fall off the bone.
- When the oxtail is ready, remove it from the liquid.
- Use an immersion blender to thicken the sauce.
- For extra thickness, add an additional tablespoon of flour and stir until dissolved.
- Place the oxtail on a serving dish and ladle the thickened sauce on top to serve. Serve with thick french fries or mashed potatoes.
If you are not familiar with using an immersion blender in hot broth, please see the notes above.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 698Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 482mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 24g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
FAQs – Rabo De Toro Al Vino Tinto
Oxtail in Spanish is rabo. Toro is bull or ox. So, rabo de toro is oxtail.
These are both different ways of saying Spanish oxtail stew. Cola is more common in Sevilla, so it might be listed as cola de toro on menus in Sevilla. The recipes are fairly the same. The Sevilla version might be cooked in Sherry rather than Spanish red wine.
Estofado is a cooking technique. Essentially it is a stew, normally slow cooked on a stovetop.