Hello guys, my name is Doyin, and I’m on my way to try oxtail for the very first time. Now I’m going to meet up
with chef Leigh-Ann Martin. She was born in Trinidad
but lives in New York City and makes Trinidadian-inspired food. She’s going to take me to her favorite place to get
oxtail in New York City, and apparently it’s on four wheels. Chef D: There’s a slow-braised
oxtails and butter beans. Doyin: Oxtail is a dish that
is popular around the world, but specifically within the Caribbean and within Caribbean
communities in the US. Yes, it is what it sounds like. Back in the day, oxtail was
specifically the tail of an ox. Today, it can be the tail of any cattle. What used to be considered
a throwaway cut of meat is now one of the most expensive, ranging from $4 to $10 per pound, and half of its weight is bone. Jamaica’s unique culinary
style is a culmination of all the peoples that
have inhabited the island, past and present, including the Arawaks, West Africans, Indians, British, and Spanish. Jamaican oxtail in particular is reminiscent of the African
one-pot cooking traditions used by the African slaves
and maroons on the island as early as the mid-1500s. Island Spice Grill is bringing the classic to New York City’s streets. Doyin: So I found Leigh-Ann. We are in downtown
Brooklyn, on Court Street. Leigh-Ann: Yes, and that is where Island Spice Grill is on a Friday. Monday through Thursday, I’m
able to get them in the city. Because of their mobility,
it makes it real easy for me to get oxtail. Doyin: I just love the
fact that they’re spreading that oxtail wealth across the city. I know that oxtail is eaten across the world.
Leigh-Ann: Yes. Doyin: Specifically, within different countries…
Leigh-Ann: Yes. Doyin: …and islands in the Caribbean. So how does the preparation vary? Leigh-Ann: Because of the cut of meat, it’s either you’re going to
get it in a stew or a soup. It can take a lot of cooking. Some countries would cook it with a lot of fresh seasonings and a lot of fresh herbs. Countries like Jamaica would
cook it with fresh herbs and the addition of dried
spices like allspice. Chef D: My name is Chef D. I’m the executive chef
of Island Spice Grill. So oxtail was considered
the poor man’s food in the islands and in Jamaica. Oxtails is considered offal, which is the less desirable
part of the cattle. So a lot of butchers and
a lot of plantation owners would prefer to go with
higher-end cuts in the meats. Because oxtails would just
take too long to cook, and it was just considered a waste. But the working man, the poor man, will find many ways to use the oxtails and turn it into a delicacy. It takes a long, long process to cook. And a lot of people like to rush it. Oxtails is very high in gelatin content, so you want to cook it very slow, and very low in fire, and that’s where you get that
meat falling off the bone, and you get that sticky
feeling in your hands. And it takes minimum three
to four hours to cook for the ideal oxtails. You slow-braise it and kind of stew it. It has become very expensive,
almost unaffordable. But people love it, ya know?
And there’s a demand for it. They get it with their rasta pasta. They get it with their rice and peas. They get it with their vegetables. Leigh-Ann: Thank you so much. Chef D: Slow-braised
oxtails and butter beans. Ya mon, ya mon. Doyin: I can’t take this
anymore. This looks so good. Let’s dig in. Leigh-Ann: Let us dig in. What are some of the
flavors that you’re getting? Doyin: It is very tender, and it came right off the bone. Leigh-Ann: You taste the spices in there. You taste the fresh seasoning that we use. What’s really unique
about the oxtail recipes coming out of the Caribbean is the use of the Amerindian and the African ways of cooking. You also have a lot of
the colonial influences, but you really get a lot of the techniques that the first people used,
the African slave used, using undesirable parts of the meat, cooking it in big pots, long and slow, and feeding a bunch of people. Doyin: So we have two different rices
Leigh-Ann: Yes. Doyin: You have rice and beans? Leigh-Ann: I have the
rice and the red beans. So this is like, pretty much
like comfort food in Jamaica. Jamaicans, they’re known
for, and they cook a lot of, rice and beans using the red beans. And that’s always normally
paired with the oxtail and a lot of gravy. And traditionally you do
have your steamed cabbage, and you have your fried plantains here. So what were you expecting, with it being, like, your
first time having oxtails? Doyin: I just wouldn’t expect there to be as much meat on it. It kind of looked kind of bony. It’s just a lot of textures on one piece. And it’s really good! Leigh-Ann: It is. So it, to me, it reminds me of, like, a pulled, a pulled brisket. Doyin: Mmm. Leigh-Ann: You know?
Doyin: Yeah. Leigh-Ann: It’s not
stringy. It’s not chewy. It’s very tender. And you do have the
gelatinous aspect of it that people love. I personally love that part of it, just kind of getting in
there with my fingers and just, like, eating at it
and just, like, gnawing at it. Doyin: This is, like, very unique. And if you haven’t had oxtail before, you have to try it. And I’m feeling…
Leigh-Ann: I’m so happy you’re enjoying it! Doyin: I’m into it! I feel like now I’m gonna go
to restaurants and be like, “Y’all have oxtail?”
Leigh-Ann: Yes. Doyin: “Then you can’t help me.” Look at this. This is so good. Leigh-Ann: It’s good, isn’t it? It has a very concentrated color on there. It’s super glossy. It’s really tender. I’m so happy that you were able to come and have it in Brooklyn today with me. Doyin: Mmm. I’m happy too! This is delicious! Leigh-Ann: You’re like a pro
now in, like, eating oxtails. Doyin: Thank you so much for educating me. This has been amazing.