Taste & Tell

Meaty oxtail in just 30 minutes: where to buy the best ready-to-cook version

We ranked convenience meals from three major supermarkets. Here's which one's oxtail was the most mouthwatering

09 June 2019 - 00:10 By Hilary Biller
Nothing tops homemade oxtail, but you can't beat the supermarket version when it comes to convenience.
Nothing tops homemade oxtail, but you can't beat the supermarket version when it comes to convenience.
Image: 123RF/mackoflower

HOW WE CONDUCTED OUR TASTE TEST

It's free and fair

We know that taste is a subjective thing and what’s good for one may not be for someone else. But it is interesting that, when a group of tasters come together, the results are usually consistent — there’s always a favourite and least-favoured item.

For this taste test, we invited a group of readers to attend a blind-tasting of supermarket convenience foods in Johannesburg. While we endeavour to rate the same items from each of the five big retailers, this is not always possible as not all of our local supermarkets carry similar products.

To ensure the taste test was free and fair, food expert Jenny Kaye was in the kitchen to supervise as products were removed from their packaging, numbered and cooked or reheated according to package instructions.

The tasters were presented the dishes “naked” which they rated on a score sheet. The products were judged on appearance, aroma, taste, value for money and whether the taster would buy it.

Auditor Jade Craig oversaw the entire process: she checked the products in the kitchen, sat in on the tasting, and collated the scores.

THE RESULTS

FIRST PLACE: PICK N PAY

Braised oxtail slow cooked with vegetables in a rich gravy

Price: 1kg for R169.99

What our tasters said:

  • Gavin: Not enough veg according to the description. Really tender and nice to see spices in the gravy.
  • Wynand: I enjoyed the flavour and appearance. It was just a bit oily but taste was good. Good value for money.
  • Boitumelo: Wish it had more veg as per description. Average taste, sauce looks good, a bit oily but well cooked.
Ready-to-cook oxtail from Pick n Pay, Checkers and Woolworths.
Ready-to-cook oxtail from Pick n Pay, Checkers and Woolworths.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

SECOND PLACE: CHECKERS

Oxtail slow-cooked in a rich gravy with potatoes and carrots

Price: 1kg for R169.99

What our tasters said:

  • Robyn: Gravy was glossy but not too oily. Tender meat.
  • Phetolo: Properly cooked although taste was not properly orchestrated.
  • Anna: Not a bad-looking dish although there are few vegetables and some were quite mushy.

THIRD PLACE: WOOLWORTHS

Slow-cooked oxtail

Price: 1kg for R219.99

What our tasters said:

  • Gavin: Appearance is poor, bones are cut longways and doesn't look like oxtail. Very bland taste with slight sweet flavour. Not good value for money.
  • John: Bitter taste, appearance not good, didn't look like beef oxtail. Ostrich neck?
  • Errol: Very ordinary. The meat was tender and the tomato flavour in the gravy came through, but not my taste for oxtail.

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