New recipes

Coda alla vaccinara recipe

Coda alla vaccinara recipe

  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef stews and casseroles

This is an Italian dish of Roman origins. Be sure to increase the amount of oxtail in this recipe by an extra pound or so.

Middlesex, England, UK

2 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 900g oxtail
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 85g lard or butter
  • 8 tablespoons chopped bacon
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli flakes
  • 225ml red wine
  • 500g passata or pureed tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and black pepper, to taste

MethodPrep:1hr ›Cook:5hr ›Ready in:6hr

  1. Cut the oxtail into 5cm (2 in) long pieces. Add about 250 to 500ml of cold water and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Add salt and pepper and bring the oxtail to boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, drain and reserve the liquid and set aside the oxtail.
  3. Chop the lard or butter, bacon (if using) and add to a heated saucepan. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and chilli, and cook on high heat, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.
  4. Next, add the oxtail and cook for about 10 more minutes or till the oxtail is slightly brown.
  5. Add the wine, passata or tomatoes, and tomato puree. Bring to boil and cook on gentle heat for 4 hours. Stir every now and again to ensure the base of the pan doesn't get burnt.
  6. This is delicious served with gnocchi or fried polenta. Last night, hubby and I had it with fried polenta.

See it on my blog

Recently viewed

Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(0)

Reviews in English (0)

List of Ingredients

  • 2 LB. of oxtail
  • 18 OZ. of plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 5 OZ. of grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 LB. of celery, cleaned
  • 3 of bay leaf
  • whole cloves
  • garlic
  • 1 BUNCH of parsley
  • salt
  • dry white wine
  • vinegar
  • extra-virgin olive oil


Cut the oxtail into 1" chunks and put them in a container with 1 cup white wine, 1 scant cup vinegar, 2 bay leaves and 2 cloves. Let the meat marinate for 40 minutes, turning often. Remove the meat and dry with paper towels.

Coat a pan lightly with oil, add the oxtail and a garlic clove. Brown on all sides for 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a pressure cooker. Add the plum tomatoes, 3 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf and 2 1/4 cups water. Bring the cooker up to pressure and cook for around 2 hours.

Remove the meat from the pot and refrigerate the broth for at least 2 hours: the fat will solidify on the surface, making it easier to remove it.

Slice the celery stalks and sprinkle them with a little salt. Clean 2/3 cup parsley leaves and blanch them. To blanch the parsley, bring water to a boil and add salt. Add the parsley leaves to boiling water for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and rinse with cold water. Cut a cross on the bottom of the grape tomatoes, plunge them into salted boiling water for a few seconds, remove them and peel them.

Remove the broth from the refrigerator and skim the fat from the surface. Heat the broth and the oxtail and serve it with the tomatoes, celery and parsley.

Coda alla vaccinara (Roman-Style Braised Oxtails)

This is comfort food at its most comforting, one of the many humble but delicious dishes that typify popular cooking in the Eternal City: Roman-style braised oxtails.

The Italian word vaccinara actually means “butcher style”. The tail is one of those cuts of meat that are known in Italian as the quinto quarto , or literally the “fifth forth”. In the old days, animals were cut up in four quarters, or quarti , the first quarto went to nobility, the second to the clergy, the third to the merchant class and the fourth to the military. What was left over–the entrails and such–or the ‘fifth quarter’, went to proletarians like the butchers. And, of course, if you were a butcher, you’d want to maximize your income by selling the best parts, keeping only the cuts least in demand for yourself.

This, they say, is why so many typical Roman dishes are made from organs: rigatoni con la pajata , for example–rigatoni dressed with a sauce of tomatoes and the intestines of suckling kids, or fritto misto alla romana , which inevitably includes calf’s brains, or coratella , the heart, lung and esophagus of lamb, sauteed with artichokes—or coda alla vaccinara .

Even though oxtail is a humble cut, it may be the sweetest, most tender, most unctuous meat you will ever eat. If you’ve never tried it, you owe it to yourself to do so!

Here’s how I like to make this dish:


  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) oxtails
  • 75g (2 oz) pancetta, cut into small dice
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery for the soffrito, plus another stalk for the end
  • A few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • Olive oil
  • White wine
  • One small can (400g) crushed canned tomatoes
  • A bay leaf
  • A few cloves
  • Salt and pepper


Sauté a soffrito made from finely chopped pancetta, onion, carrot, celery and parsley in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender. Then raise the heat to medium-low and add pieces of oxtail with crowding. Allow the oxtails to brown, turning them often, and seasoning with salt and pepper. Be careful not to allow the vegetables to burn add a bit of water if need be. (The pieces will not caramelize, just lightly brown. That’s fine–the main point of this operation is for the meat to insaporire, meaning to absorb the flavor of the soffrito . )

Add wine–some recipes call for red wine and some for white, which I prefer–and allow it to boil off completely, again turning the oxtail pieces. Then some crushed tomatoes (the amount will depend on your taste, but I like abundant sauce so add quite a bit) and then enough water (or broth) to just cover the oxtail pieces, along with a bay leaf and a few cloves. (If you’re fussy, these can be tied up in cheesecloth and removed before serving.) Cover and simmer until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone, anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the meat. I find it usually takes more like 4 than 2 hours. This dish is the very definition of ‘slow food’.

Now for the finishing touch: About 30 minutes or so before the dish is done, add a generous amount of chopped celery and allow it to cook along with the oxtail and other vegetables. This is very important, as the celery balances the unctuousness of the oxtail and sauce with a bit of astringency. The dish would otherwise be a bit too cloying.


Like other braised dishes, coda alla vaccinara is even better left overnight and reheated the next day. If you want a less rich dish, you can leave it in the refrigerator and skim off some of the excess fat–and there will be a lot of it, since oxtail is a rather fatty cut of meat.

If you want to speed things up a bit, you can simmer the coda in a pressure cooker. However, even after 1-2 hours under pressure, you’ll still need to continue simmering off-pressure for about an hour or so to reduce the sauce and concentrate the flavor. So, to my mind, this is one case when you may not save yourself that much time.

Make sure you have plenty of bread to sop up the sauce, which is absolutely divine. In fact, coda may be even better as a sauce for pasta: remove the meat from the bones, chop it up and add it back into the sauce, and use this to dress rigatoni to make rigatoni alla vaccinara .

Like most popular dishes, there are lots of variations. This version is, to my mind, the most straightforward and flavorful. But some recipes call for boiling the oxtail first for its broth (which you can keep for soup or risotto) and then adding it to the soffritto. And many, perhaps most, recipes call for parboiling the celery pieces before adding them to the oxtail at the end, which takes some of the ‘bite’ off the celery. I find that step unnecessary (especially using American celery, which is quite mild in flavor to begin with) and, in any event, as I said, the celery helps balance the flavors of the dish.

If you like spice, you can add a bit of peperoncino (or red pepper flakes) to the soffrito . Other variations tend toward the sweet or sweet-and-sour. Nutmeg or cinnamon is sometimes added. Some variations even call for raisins and dark chocolate–never had that version, and I’m sure I want to try it…

By the way, besides loving the taste, I feel a special connection to Roman-style braised oxtails for another reason: apparently the section ( rione ) of Rome where the butches lived and where tradition has it that this dish was born was called Regola. Well, that’s where we used to live, in the piazza San Paolo alla Regola, a quiet little piazza only a few steps from bustling Campo dei fiori.

The two versions of the recipe

There are two versions to prepare coda alla vaccinara (cow’s tail). Both of them are recalled authentic and if you go to any roman restaurant you’ll find for sure one of them. Those two version are pretty similar:

The first one is the simplest. The oxtail is cooked in a tomato sauce with the typical Roman seasonings: Soffritto. This seasoning is a staple is the roman cuisine and consists of onion, celery and carrot finely chopped.

In the other version, the oxtail is also cooked with soffritto and tomato sauce but at the end is added a very delicious sauce that is made with pine nuts, raisins and chocolate. It is so delicious! So we’d like to share this recipe version because in our opinion, it is simply the best.


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

1 Tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

400 ml (1 2/3 cups) dry white wine

2 cans (400 g/14 oz) peeled tomatoes

salt and freshly ground black pepper

20 grams (2 Tbsp) pine nuts

30 grams (2 1/2 Tbsp) raisins

Roman Oxtail Stew (Coda alla Vaccinara)

When I arrive in Rome every fall Roman Oxtail Stew or Coda alla Vaccinara is one of the dishes that I must have. The food of Rome is different than what our perception of Italian food is in the US. The people of Rome historically survived on the parts of the animal that no one wanted. That is where this dish was derived, it’s made with oxtails. Anyone who has ever tasted an oxtail stew will tell you this is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef to braise. That is why this dish is a classic today.

This recipe comes from Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie (HarperCollins 2002). He is an American who was raised in Rome so he has an understanding of how to present the Roman culture in a way we Americans can embrace it. I love his stories about food, his descriptions of Mario the Spice Guy who has a stall in the Campo di Fiori I make sure to visit every year, the restaurants, the traditions and history of the food.

In this recipe, Mr. Downie explains how the dish got its name. The men and women who slaughtered the cows were called “ vaccinari “. The origins of this dish are in the up and coming Testaccio neighborhood. That is were the slaughterhouses were located.

I do love this book It is out of print now but if you are seriously looking for a culinary guide to Rome, it’s well worth seeking out a used copy.

Coda alla vaccinara recipe - Recipes

  • Prep Time : 10m
  • Cook Time : 3:20 h
  • Ready In : 3:30 h

This is one of the most typical dish you can find in Rome. Even though it may seem strange to eat the tail of a beef I can assure you the taste it’s no different than any other beef cut. Originally this dish was really poor, the butchers used to sell all the best meat cut to the rich people and eventually only the less valuable cuts were left for them. Those cuts, know as the fifth fourth, included entrails like heart, spleen, tripe and obviously the tail.
In those days, not many people could afford to buy meat so they had to make delicious recipes even with what was considered a waste. Well, they came up with amazing recipes such as this one, that is so versatile you can use it to set up a complete meal: you can use the tomato sauce to season pasta and the meat to be eaten as a second course.

The one thing you need to know is that it will take up to three hours to cook this recipe, but trust me it will be worth it, anyway you don’t have to stand in front of the pot and follow the cooking process, you just need to stir from time to time.
The original recipe includes lard to cook the meat, at the time it was the only fat cheap and always available, that’s why you will find it in many regional an typical dishes.
Nowadays we are more lucky and we can use vegetable oil so we can reduce the amount of fats and calories.

I’m not sure this kind of meat cut is sold worldwide, but I’m sure if you have a trusted butcher he will find it for you.
You can buy veal or beef tail the main difference is that the first one is less greasy and more tender, so you will need less time to cook it.
Even though in the past this was considered a poor dish, it is very difficult to find this kind of meat nowadays, and the price has risen considerably, besides there is a big amount of waste, because this cut is mainly made of bones.


  • 2.5 kg of tail (in big chunks)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 celery (400gr)
  • 1 glass of wine (I used a red wine, you can also use white)
  • 1kg of canned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp of raisins
  • 1 tbsp of pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 2 o 3 cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil


Step 1

Potete scegliere di servire la carne accompagnata da un contorno di patate e utilizzare il sugo per condire un primo piatto per ottenere un menù completo.

Step 2

Boil the tail for 20 to 30 minutes to get rid of the excess fats. (if you are using beef, this is not necessary if you are using veal).

Step 3

Finely chop the onion, the garlic, 1 stalk of celery and 1/2 carrot. Heat a pan with the oil and add the chopped vegetables and the cloves. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the meat. Let it brown on all surfaces then add the wine.As the wine evaporates, cover with a lid and let cook for 10minutes.

Step 4

Add the tomato sauce and leave it to cook for 1 hour, always covered with a lid. Stir from time to time. Add a ladle of boiling water and cover again. Cook for 2 hours.

Step 5

In the mean time, remove the strings from the stalks of celery and blanch it in boiling water. Chop it into chunks and add it to the meat just 10 minutes before cooking time is over. Add pine nuts and raisins and the cocoa powder. Stir to mix evenly.

Step 6

When the cooking time is over, turn off the heat and let the meat sit for 5 minutes. You can serve it with some baked, boiled or mashed potatoes, and you can use the sauce to season spaghetti or other pasta like rigatoni.

A bit of dinner

Hey weakling! Yeah you. What are you cooking? I am cooking a tail. The tail of a cow.

This has been a bit of an endevour. The cooking time for Coda alla Vaccinara is two days, which is at the upper end of my 30 second attention span.

While the main ingredient for this one is obviously Oxtail, it is also a pork fest, including pancetta and pork rind (coteca), which means you can really show off at the butchers. Pork rind? Yeah, I’m the sort of bloke that cooks dishes with the main ingredients of a dog chew.

Most recipes for Coda alla Vaccinara say you need about 2lbs of meat. This is because a tail weighs about 2lbs. Get the butcher to cut it to about two finger deep chunks.I have based this recipe on one by Anna Del Conte.

25g of pork fat/or lard or goose fat

2 cloves of garlic, handful of chopped parsley

1 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot (or two)

2 tbsps of tom puree diluted with 2 cups of meat stock

2 cups of celery (8oz), salt & pepper

Boil the oxtail and pork rind to soften (5 mins), then drain and refresh under cold water. Put the fat, diced pancetta, onion, carrot, parsley and garlic into a stew pan, and fry off until soft. Add the oxtail and rind and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the wine, and boil off on a high heat for a couple of minutes. Add the diluted tomato puree and meat stock and sling it in an oven (160c) for 2 hours or so, keeping an eye on it by stirring and turning the oxtail every 30 mins. After the cooking period, let it cool and put it in the fridge overnight to improve the flavours. The next day you’ll need to scrape off the excess fat which has congealed on the top of the stew. You’ll only need to heat it through on the stove top for 20 mins, but before you do, add 2 cups of thick sliced celery. Serve with any starch – we like well seasoned Polenta. The next day, I finished the leftovers by stripping the meat from the bones, served as a sauce on some wholewheat penne.


  • 4 pounds oxtails, in 2 - inch -thick pieces
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • ¼ pound fatty prosciutto, diced
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ pound pancetta, diced (optional)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup tomato paste diluted in 2 cups meat stock, or 2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut into strips, plus meat stock as needed
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, and 2 whole cloves, tied in a cheesecloth sachet
  • 1 large head celery about 1½ pounds , cut into 2 - inch pieces, blanched, and drained
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • ½ cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons grated bitter chocolate (optional)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Roman Oxtail Stew Recipe (Coda alla Vaccinara Recipe)

Coda alla Vaccinara, or Roman oxtail stew is a staple in many Roman homes. Famous for centuries, it used the part of the ox that used to be considered good enough for the hoi polloi. Nowadays oxtails, much like lobster and oysters before them, has gone from poor people’s food to a delicacy and can be found in upscale trattorias. Here is a recipe:

Ingredients for Roman Oxtail Stew Recipe
3 to 4 lbs. oxtails
1/4 lb. pork rind
Olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
4 carrots, minced
3 sprigs of fresh parsley, minced
2 1/2 cups red wine
2 oz. dried mushrooms such as porcini
2 tbs. butter
4 tbs. potato flour
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation for Roman Oxtail Stew Recipe
Cut the pork into thin strips, then heat 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pan. Add the pork rind, then all the vegetables and the oxtails. Sauté, season with salt and pepper, and add the wine. Cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables start to soften, and the wine has been reduced a little. Add enough water to cover the meat. Cover the pan tightly then simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until the oxtail is tender. While the stew is cooking, soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for about 30 minutes. Drain. Then, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a saucepan, and sauté the mushrooms for a few minutes.

After the oxtails are tender, use a spoon to remove the froth from the liquid. Bring the liquid to the boil. Knead the butter and potato flour together until it’s smooth and stir into the stew in small pieces. Continue to cook until the sauce has thickened. Keep skimming off surplus fat then add the mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes longer, then transfer the pieces of oxtail to a deep dish. Pour the sauce over and serve immediately with boiled potatoes.

Watch the video: Coda alla vaccinara #cucinaromana #cucinadellatradizione #piattipoveri (January 2022).