How to Get a Winter Stew Just Right

Oxtail brings incredible richness to these recipes and it’s all but impossible to get wrong. In fact, the best thing you can do with this cut is leave it alone for a good long time.

I’D LIKE TO clear up a few misconceptions about my favorite cold-weather cut of meat. For starters, “oxtail” is a misnomer: The tail does not necessarily come from an ox; it can be obtained from any kind of cattle. Then there’s the assumption that because a tail works hard (swatting flies, etc.), its meat will have a tough, chewy texture. Not so, if you prepare it correctly.

“Correctly” might mean simmered in peanut soup in the Philippines, stewed with pumpkin in Yemen, or cooked in a three-legged pot over coals in South...