Coda alla vaccinara – Roman oxtail stew

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This superb oxtail stew, known as coda alla vaccinara, is an iconic dish of Rome. Oxtail, though very much in vogue today, once fell into Rome's Quinto Quarto – or 'fifth quarter' – of meat cuts and offal, considered at the time to be the lowliest around but thriftily utilised up in a number of stunning dishes. Learn how to make polenta to serve with this dish in our handy guide.

First published in 2018




Coda alla vaccinara – Roman oxtail stew

  • 1.5kg oxtail, cut into 3-4cm pieces
  • 30g of flour
  • 150g of pancetta
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 celery sticks, 1 diced, the others split lengthways then cut into thirds (reserve the leaves for garnish)
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp of tomato purée
  • 200ml of red wine
  • 1 400g tin of chopped tomato
  • beef stock, as needed
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder, (optional)
  • lard, or olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

To serve


Season the oxtail pieces with a good helping of salt and pepper, then dust with flour. Sear in a hot pan with some lard or olive oil until browned all over
Remove the oxtail from the pan and set aside. Add the pancetta, onion, diced celery, carrot and garlic to the pan and sauté until soft
Add the cinnamon, herbs and tomato purée to the pan and stir for 1 minute. Deglaze with the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon
Add the seared oxtail to the pan and let the wine reduce by half. Add the tinned tomatoes, lengths of celery and enough stock to cover the oxtail
Simmer on a low heat with the lid on for 3–4 hours, until the meat is falling away from the bones. Be sure to check on it occasionally, adding more stock if the meat starts to stick to the pan
Taste, season with salt and pepper and stir in the cocoa powder, if using. Pick out and discard the cinnamon stick and rosemary and thyme stalks
Serve on a bed of polenta sprinkled with raisins, pine nuts and some of the leaves reserved from the celery sticks

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