Costa Rican Estofado (Beef Tail in Red Sauce)

Platter consisting of meat in thick brown sauce and rice.

The traditional Costa Rican oxtail dish is braised and then bathed in a sauce of tomatoes, carrots, and onions for a savory and hearty stew. 

Costa Rican Estofado Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 2-3 lbs Beef tail
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomato or the equivalent of fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, quartered
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 TB ketchup
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 3 TB Salsa Lizano (optional)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • salt to taste

Instructions:

Place the oxtail into a pressure cooker and add 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 large chunk each of yellow onion, garlic, cilantro, and red pepper. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.

If you are using a crockpot you can cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.  For stovetop- bring to a boil and cook until very tender.

While the beef tail is cooking, combine tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, ketchup, soy sauce, Lizano and sugar into the blender. Add 2 cups of beef broth from the cooked oxtail. Blend until smooth.

Meanwhile, remove oxtail from the pressure cooker and cut into 1 inch thick slices. Cover the meat in the sauce and heat thoroughly.

Serve with white rice or arroz arreglado. This dish is also sometimes part of a Costa Rican casado dish.  

About This Costa Rican Oxtail in Red Sauce Recipe

This is one of my all-time favorite Costa Rican recipes. I love it as much for the taste as I do for the memories.

See, in most of the Central Valley of Costa Rica this dish is made on holidays. It’s the type of recipe that is passed down from mother to daughter over generations- everyone adds their own touch to the recipe, and if your estofado is on point you have eternal bragging rights.

Also, my husband is from San Ramon where we have a huge celebration for our saint day on August 31. For two weeks leading up to the festivities, estofado is sold downtown as a church fundraiser. It’s the best eating of the year, and this dish is the star.

Estofado is also often called carne en salsa, or trozos de carne en salsa, and you can substitute a chuck roast for the oxtail. I was curious what is the difference between beef tail and ox tail- the difference is pretty much semantic. 

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Substitutions

If you don’t have canned or fresh tomatoes on hand, about two cups of tomato sauce will have a similar effect.

You can use a chuck roast or sirloin in place of the oxtail.

If you don’t have Salsa Lizano- shame on you! You can substitute Worcestershire sauce.

Variations

This recipe is very similar to the carne en salsa that is made with shredded beef. 

Serving Suggestions

Serve with white rice or arroz arreglado. 

This dish will often appear on menus as part of a casado- served with  white rice, black beans, and salad

Other side dish options include gallo pinto.  It is also traditional to eat this dish as a “gallo” by placing a small serving of it in the middle of a corn tortilla.

Drink agua dulce or coffee with this dish. 

FAQ

1.) Where can I purchase an oxtail? – Oxtails can be found at most major grocery store chains, like Cub Foods and Walmart, as well as local butcher shops. They are very expensive, so be sure to buy them on sale if that’s a possibility!

2.) How long does oxtail stew last?- In the refrigerator, oxtail stew can keep for up to five days. When frozen, it will last for up to two months. To reheat your stew, pour it in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes. 

 

Printable Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Costa Rican Estofado

Platter consisting of meat in thick brown sauce and rice.

The traditional Costa Rican oxtail dish is braised and then bathed in a sauce of tomatoes, carrots, and onions for a savory and hearty stew. 

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs Beef tail
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomato or the equivalent of fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, quartered
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 TB ketchup
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 3 TB Salsa Lizano (optional)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the oxtail into a pressure cooker and add 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 large chunk each of yellow onion, garlic, cilantro, and red pepper. Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
  2. If you are using a crockpot you can cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours.  For stovetop- bring to a boil and cook until very tender.
  3. While the beef tail is cooking, combine tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic, ketchup, soy sauce, Lizano and sugar into the blender. Add 2 cups of beef broth from the cooked oxtail. Blend until smooth.
  4. Meanwhile, remove oxtail from the pressure cooker and cut into 1 inch thick slices. Cover the meat in the sauce and heat thoroughly.
  5. Serve with white rice or arroz arreglado. This dish is also sometimes part of a Costa Rican casado dish.  

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1384Total Fat: 90gSaturated Fat: 35gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 395mgSodium: 1284mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 123g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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