Oxtail mac-and-cheese is the main event at Coco's Cuisine in...

Oxtail mac-and-cheese is the main event at Coco's Cuisine in Hempstead. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Consider oxtail, a Jamaican delicacy that's recently been getting star treatment in New York. An unexpectedly decadent pleasure, this deep, beefy stew is more gelatinous, and dare we say, more tender than your average slow-braised chuck roast. Traditionally considered “offal” as it comes from the tail of a cow, oxtail requires a long process of slow braising that creates a supple, fall-off-the-bone texture. It was only a matter of time before chefs realized the silken meat made a righteous topping on pizza, grilled cheese, chopped cheese, cheesesteaks, crab rangoons and perhaps best of all, macaroni and cheese. 

For Jamaica native Collette Daley, oxtail mac-and-cheese is a natural synthesis of her two styles of cooking, Jamaican and Southern soul food. And it's a star of the menu at her takeout joint, Coco's Cuisine in Hempstead. She's been inviting influencers to try the fast-casual spot since it opened this summer, but it was the oxtail mac that went viral in November. 

“The flavor can pair a lot of different things. Once you get it to that soft consistency, it just melts in your mouth,” Daley said of the oxtail.

To prepare it, her partner and chef, Mark Davis, stews the meat for three hours with onions and a special seasoning blend. Then he lets the meat cool before he shreds it, and sets it in the center of the oozy mac-and-cheese ($20). The silken shreds of beef flow into the macaroni, adding a savory note to the creamy affair. The oxtail is not abrasive like birria, and not boozy like beef bourguignon. It's simply much beefier than your average roast, with a fatty texture.

Collette Daley runs Coco's Cuisine in Hempstead with partner Mark...

Collette Daley runs Coco's Cuisine in Hempstead with partner Mark Davis. Credit: Newsday/Andi Berlin

Daley is a classically trained chef who owned a similar concept in Brooklyn, where she said she faced stiff competition on the Caribbean scene. She decided to give her dream a second go on Long Island because she saw a lack of Caribbean food in the suburbs. Her menu blends Caribbean dishes from her mom with soul food staples she learned in the United States, like a burger topped with jerk sauce, brown stew chicken with rice and peas, or freshly fried (super crispy) shrimp on a waffle. She also prepares her own fresh juices, like a crimson-colored sorrel juice made from hibiscus and a generous hit of ginger ($4.25). And Davis makes the dessert. The red velvet Hennessy cheesecake is just as beautiful (and decadent) as it seems. 

Coco's Cuisine, 391 Peninsula Blvd., Hempstead, 516-636-5755, cocoscuisines.com. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. 

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