Although I don't agree, I can understand why oxtail is classified as a variety meat. Variety meats are those parts of an animal that are left after the butchering process. So, technically, I guess the tail is a 'left-over'. But variety meats, by nature, are an acquired taste. Like coffee for someone who grew up drinking only tea. Or grits for anyone north of the Mason-Dixon. Oxtails are delicious at first bite, even for the variety meat novice.
Most variety meats are organs. They have tastes and textures that the average American of the late 20th century doesn't appreciate. If you grew up eating them well prepared, you are likely to enjoy them. If you didn't, you will probably need to learn to like them.
In generations past, variety meats were the parts that required the talents of creative home cooks who didn't have a choice. Because they didn't have the luxury of wasting even the sow's squeal, they figured out how to turn it into a nurishing meal. Maybe when that first cook put that first dish of chicken gizzards on the table, it wasn't greeted with relish. But, you can be sure it was eaten with gratitude.
Likely it took several years, even several generations, for chicken gizzards to become a favorite family tradition. But it eventually did. Because what you grow up eating, you grow up loving.
Now, back to my oxtail. A lot of ingredients and time go into preparing this dish, but it's worth it. If the richest flavors are closest to the bone, then the best of all surrounds the tail bone. After laying down the flavors of olive oil, lard, parsley, garlic, onions, and carrots, oxtails and fresh pork jowl are added to the pan and browned.
Then comes the wine, tomatoes, salt, pepper and water followed by some long slow simmering. After about 90 minutes, celery is added and the simmering continues for another 45 minutes or so. When the meat is fork tender, spoon off the excess fat, and you have Oxtail, Vaccinara Style.
We enjoyed ours with polenta, green peas, and some nice Barbera from Paso Robles' Castoro Cellars.
Our grandsons are growing up in a typical young American family. Busy parents with too many commitments and too little time to devote to developing their young palates. So I take every opportunity to introduce them to the unusual. You may remember this little guy from my post about Squid and Artichoke Soup. He declared that he loved the oxtail "Because I'm a carnivore, MeeMaw".
Oxtail is indeed delicious. So delicious that you won't want to waste a single morsel. So, I recommend that you set aside your knife and fork; drape a large napkin across your lap; and make use of the best utensils for the job.