Mocoto (Brazilian Oxtail Soup with White Beans)

23 Feb

B’s last recipe, the black beans, was the first recipe we ever swapped. It is amazing, and was also my first attempt at cooking black beans, which I had been hearing about for years, but never seen in Australia or Indonesia. Trinidad has supplies of them, so I had a can sitting in the cupboard waiting to be cooked when I asked if anyone had a favourite recipe I could use. The morning after I cooked her beans, I had been to the gym, so was a bit peckish, and remembered there was some left-over in the fridge. I had one hell of a spring in my step getting back to the car to get home and eat them. Some people might call it a sprint. And they are just as good the next day.

It is carnival time here in Trinidad, so it is all a bit crazy, and availability of ingredients is sketchy. Something you can pretty much always get here is oxtail, and given it is such a popular ‘local’ ingredient I thought that there may also be a good Brazilian recipe. There is… Mocoto, said with an emphasis on the ‘to’. A full flavoured soupy stewy goodness.This recipe calls for half of the beans and broth to be pureéd together and the other half to be left as is. This gives a thick and creamy base to the soup.

You’ll need…

Oxtail, onion, tomato, spring onion (scallion), bay leaf, garlic, celery (the original recipe calls for bell pepper (capsicum) so once again use that if you like it), coriander (cilantro), white beans like Cannellini, bacon, butter, oil, salt and pepper.

I started by melting a little oil and butter in a deep heavy bottomed pan on medium heat. I seasoned the oxtail with salt and pepper, and then browned in the pan, in batches.

It is important when browning pieces of meat not to crowd them, or they can end up stewing rather than browning. While the meat was browning, I chopped up the onion, celery, garlic and bacon.

With all of the browned oxtail removed from the pan, I put in the chopped onion, garlic, celery, bacon and also the bay leaves. I let them cook through and brown a little, by stirring them over a medium heat for a few minutes. In the meantime I chopped the tomatoes.

When the bacon was looking a little browned and the onion looked translucent I returned the oxtail to the saucepan, and added in the tomatoes. After mixing through, I then topped up the saucepan with water, to around an inch above the level of the meat.

I brought the contents to a boil on high heat, and then reduced the heat to low, the point at which the soup simmered gently. I left it to simmer for three hours, stirring from time to time. After three hours I checked to see if the meat was falling off the bones. I probably could have cooked it a bit longer, but it was still tasty. I think 3-5 hours would be a good time frame to allow for the cooking of the oxtail, if you have that time available.

I scooped out the oxtail and bones and put them aside to cool a little.

I then rinsed the two cans of beans, and put half in to a food processor. I also ladled in half of the cooking broth from the saucepan, and blended them together until smooth.

It made a creamy white mixture, that I added back in to the pot with the remaining broth. I then tipped the unblended beans into this mix.

I pulled the meat from the oxtail pieces, shredding it slightly as I went, and put it back in to the soup.

And I mixed it well, and warming it over medium-low heat. I then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and it was ready to serve.

I chopped up some spring onion (scallion) and pulled the leaves off some coriander (cilantro) as a garnish for the soup. Be generous with the coriander leaves, it works well. I left a bottle of tabasco sauce on the table and I used it to season my soup also. Jason felt it didn’t need anything else.

So B, now you have me hooked on this cuisine. I am curious to know if you are planning to show me more Brazilian flavours. Tag!


adaption of this recipe
serves four

900g (2 pounds) oxtail
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, or two small onions, diced
3 large tomatoes or or equivalent in smaller tomatoes, cubed
4 stalks of celery, or a red and green bell pepper (capsicum), diced
50g (2 oz) smoked bacon, chopped
4 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed
½ bunch of coriander (cilantro)
Spring onion (scallion)


Season the oxtails with salt and pepper. Warm the oil and butter in a large saucepan on medium heat, and brown the oxtails in batches.

With all of the browned oxtail removed from the pan, add the bacon, celery (or peppers), onion, garlic and bay leaves. Stirring every minute or so, let the ingredients cook and brown a little. Add back in the browned oxtail and then the cubed tomatoes, and cover with water to around an inch above the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer over low heat for at least 3 hours. Ideally the meat should be falling off the bone, so allow 3-5 hours if you can. When the meat is ready, remove from the broth to a bowl and allow to cool a little.

Add half of the beans and half of the broth to a blender and purée. Put the blended and the remaining whole beans back in to the saucepan with the rest of the broth.
Pull the meat from the bones of the oxtail and shred a little as you go. Add this back in to the soup, and mix well and warm over a medium-low heat.

Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste. If your soup is too thick at this stage, add a little more hot water to get the consistency you like to eat. Keep the soup warm over a low heat making sure to stir from time to time so it doesn’t stick to the saucepan.

To serve, garnish generously with coriander (cilantro) and chopped spring onion (scallion). Serve with Tabasco as an optional seasoning on the table.

4 Responses to “Mocoto (Brazilian Oxtail Soup with White Beans)”

  1. Kandis 04/03/2012 at 12:51 am #

    *sighs* of course I would stuff this up!

    Had the soup simmering on the stove top and dozed off (finished a 13 hour night shift this morning). Seems I had the simmer too high and burnt it beyond repair 😦

    Will try again another time and hopefully not fuck it up.

  2. Alice 04/03/2012 at 3:58 am #

    Oh Kandis… what a bummmmmmmmer.

  3. Joe 11/10/2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Wow, that looks delicious. I stumbled across this looking for Mocoto recipes as my girlfriend has a broken leg and that stuff is amazing, packed full of goodies. Mocoto is actually Brazilian Indian for Cow’s foot by the way. I fed her Oxtail last week so tonight it’s foot 🙂 Basically the same recipe without celery, sausage instead of Bacon and foot instead of tail.

    • Alice 13/10/2013 at 6:53 pm #

      Thanks for that Joe. I could have got cow’s foot in Trindad too, (where I made that)! They call it cow heel, and it is often made in to a brothy, gelatinous soup there.

      Back in Australia, oxtail is all I can to find.

      I hope your girlfriend heals quickly (get her in to sunlight too if she can!)



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