1. Rinse oxtails, and pat dry. Remove and discard silver skin, if necessary. Sprinkle oxtails with salt and pepper.
2. Cook oxtails in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat 10 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer oxtails to a 6-qt. slow cooker.
3. Add broth and next 5 ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours or until meat is tender. Serve over hot cooked grits. Sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme, if desired.
Braised Short Ribs and Vegetables: Substitute 4 lb. beef short ribs, trimmed and cut in half, for oxtails. Proceed with recipe as directed.