All regions of Italy have their own traditional dishes, referred to as piatti tipici.Coda alla Vaccinara is a typical dish from the cucina povera (poor man’s kitchen) of Rome (Lazio). Oxtail is part of what is called the quinto quarto (the fifth quarter), the less desirable parts of an animal that remain when all the nice parts have been taken. The sauce can be served over penne rigate or rigatoni, which is called Rigatoni al Sugo di Coda.
There is quite a bit of bone in oxtail, so from 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of oxtail you only get enough meat for 2-3 servings, but enough pasta sauce for 6 servings.
For 2-3 servings (6 servings of pasta sauce)
- 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) oxtail, cut into pieces
- 100 grams (4 oz) lardo or guanciale
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
- 3 cloves
- 400 ml (1 2/3 cups) dry white wine
- 2 cans (400 g/14 oz) peeled tomatoes
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- To finish the sauce
- 3 stalks celery
- 20 grams (2 Tbsp) pine nuts
- 30 grams (2 1/2 Tbsp) raisins
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
Cut the lardo into cubes.
Mince the carrots, onion, garlic, and celery finely with the food processor.
Wash the oxtail pieces and dry with paper towels.
Heat the oil in a casserole and add the lardo. (It would be advisable to use a larger casserole than I did.)
Sauté the lardo until it starts to turn golden.
Add the oxtail pieces.
Brown them on all sides.
Add the minced vegetables, parsley and cloves. [The traditional recipe says to add this to the meat, but when I make this again I will take out the oxtail first and put it back in right after adding the wine.]
Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the vegetables start to turn golden.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the wine. Cover and cook for 15 minutes over low heat.
Add the tomatoes (whizzed in the foodprocessor).
Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the casserole, and simmer for about 4 hours or until the oxtail is fall-off-the-bone tender.
The sauce can be used to serve over rigatoni.
The pasta can be served with freshly grated pecorino romano (a cheese from the same region as the dish) and chopped parsley.
To finish the sauce, soak the raisins in hot water for 10 minutes.
Remove the fibrous part of the celery stalks with a vegetable peeler.
Cut the celery stalks into small pieces.
Parboil the celery pieces for a couple of minutes.
Drain the celery.
Put a bit of the sauce in a small bowl and add the cocoa powder.
Stir the cocoa powder into the sauce and then add this mixture to the casserole.
Add the celery…… the raisins …… and the pine nuts.
Stir to mix and cook for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to mix.
Serve the oxtail with some sauce. As a wine pairing a red from Lazio such as a Cesanese del Piglio would be traditional, but this dish is great with many full-bodied red wines.