Coda alla Vaccinara
The name does not do justice to this dish, for non-Italians like me it sounds like a medicine or something clinical, it is nowhere near that in fact it is the opposite, this dish is amazing and I can’t get enough of it. Coda alla vaccinara is a type of Roman dish made with oxtail, vegetables and lots of celery.
Original recipe states that oxtail needs to be simmered in large amounts of celery, which means for every 1 kilo of oxtail 1 1/2 kilo of celery is to be used. Other ingredients used is the usual soffritto, prosciutto, pancetta, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins and pine nuts. This dish is meant to be on the sweet and sour hence sometimes if raisins are unavailable home cooks use candied fruit or grated bitter sweet chocolate.
For our recipe below, I did not use crazy amounts of celery as I was quite scared to mess up the flavour but this was the most amount of celery I used in cooking a dish. It’s hard to wait for this dish to cook as it will take you more than a couple of hours before enjoying it, to add insult to that wait the smell of this dish while simmering is very tempting, but if you have the patience you will be rewarded with a very tasty beef treat that just melt in your mouth.
- 1½ kg oxtail, cut into 2 1⁄2" sections
- 100 g pancetta, minced
- 6 stalks celery (3 minced and 3 whole)
- 1 medium carrot, minced
- 1 red onion, minced
- 4 cloves
- 2 pcs bay leaves
- ¼ cup raisins, minced
- 1 1⁄2 cups red wine
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- Generously season oxtails with salt and pepper.
- Heat large heavy pot on stove top, add oil and once it hot brown oxtails on all sides. Remove oxtails then set it aside.
- Add the pancetta, minced celery, carrot, red onion, cloves and bay leaves, sauté in medium heat for 5 minutes until vegetables are soft.
- Bring back heat to high, add wine let it reduce in half its volume then pour the chopped tomatoes, beef stock and add the oxtails. Bring back to a boil then simmer covered in low heat for 2 hours.
- Add the 3 whole celery stalks and raisins then continue to simmer covered for one more hour, check liquid levels regularly add water if needed. In the last 15 minutes, remove the cover, bring heat to high then continue to cook until liquid is reduced to a thick sauce. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then serve.