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Recipe: Slow-Cooked Oxtail With Yogurt & Sweet Potatoes

Written by Melissa Pasanen on . Posted in Recipes, Taste of the Landscape

Slow-Cooked Oxtail With Yogurt & Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4
Deliciously different with the Lebanese and Turkish flavors of yogurt, cinnamon and chickpeas and the slightly smoky and spicy pepper butter.
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  1. 5 pounds oxtails, cut crosswise into 2-inch lengths (if using shanks, cook them whole)
  2. 1 ½ cups plain yogurt, strained or Greek-style, divided
  3. 2 large all-purpose potatoes, scrubbed (but not necessary to peel) and roughly chopped
  4. 3 carrots, scrubbed (but not necessary to peel) and roughly chopped
  5. 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  6. 2 stalks of celery with leaves, roughly chopped
  7. 2 cinnamon sticks
  8. 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, plus more to taste
  9. 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  10. 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  11. 2 teaspoons honey
  12. 3 tablespoons flour
  13. 2 egg yolks
  14. 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  15. 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (can sizes vary from 15 to 19-ounces and are all fine; or use about 2 to 3 cups home-cooked chickpeas)
To finish
  1. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper flakes (Samad uses a Turkish dried pepper called kirmizi biber)
  3. 1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
  4. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or tarragon, or a combination
  1. In a bowl, combine the oxtails and 1 cup of the yogurt and stir to coat the meat in yogurt. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. In a large stock pot, combine the yogurt-marinated meat with the potatoes, carrots, onion, celery and cinnamon sticks. Add 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt, 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper and 12 to 14 cups of cold water just to cover. Bring to a simmer over high heat and then reduce heat to low.
  2. Cook uncovered at a slow simmer for about 3 hours, occasionally skimming any foam that rises, until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bones. Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside. Cool to lukewarm and then, if you prefer not to serve the meat on the bone, pull the meat from the bones and set aside. Strain the liquid from the vegetables and cinnamon sticks and discard cinnamon sticks and vegetables (or save the vegetables for another use, such as soups or mashed and fried as potato-vegetable cakes). Ideally, leave the liquid to cool and then refrigerate overnight for easiest removal of fat. (You should have about 4 to 5 cups of liquid. If you have more, save it for another use.)
  3. When ready to complete the dish, return the de-fatted oxtail cooking liquid to a large pot set over medium-high heat and add the sweet potato. Bring to a strong simmer and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes until the sweet potato is just tender. In the meantime, in a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup yogurt, honey, flour, egg yolks and lemon juice. When the sweet potato is tender, reduce the heat under the pot to low. Slowly whisk in a small ladleful of the hot liquid to the yogurt mixture to temper it and then another ladleful. Then stir the tempered yogurt mixture slowly into the pot. (The resulting liquid should be the texture of heavy cream. If it’s not, cook briefly and gently to reduce.) Stir in the chickpeas and the reserved meat. Increase the heat to medium low to reach a bare simmer. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add at least ½ teaspoon salt to balance yogurt.
  4. While the stew is heating through, melt the butter in a small saucepan and stir in the red pepper flakes and paprika. Ladle the stew into bowls over wilted greens if desired, garnishing with pepper butter and fresh herbs.
Adapted from chef/co-owner Ismail Samad, The Gleanery, Putney
Adapted from chef/co-owner Ismail Samad, The Gleanery, Putney
Vermont Life Magazine
Melissa Pasanen

Melissa Pasanen

Contact Melissa Pasanen at and follow her on Twitter at

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