The Dish from Rome: Braised Oxtail – Coda alla Vaccinara



Much of the food of Rome is based on cucina povera.  Offal, the quinto quarto, is a huge part of this cuisine.  The quinto, “fifth” quarter of the animal, includes the "lesser" cuts and the innards.  Rich folks took the premier cuts of meat. The poor, making due with what was left, cooked the hell out of these pieces, establishing the cuisine of Rome, that still thrives today. 

 They caressed the flavors from these tough unwanted pieces into dishes as rich as Rome’s history, with layers of flavors running as deep as the ancient cities lying below Rome.  Coda alla Vaccinara (braised oxtail) is one of these dishes.  The tail is slowly cooked, tenderizing the meat, and releasing flavors from the tailbone that give the dish an intense meatiness.





One August afternoon, I chatted with the chef at Capo di Ferro in Trastevere about La Coda.  I had their version, served as a rich ragu with rigatoni. I became an instant fan.  Over an after-lunch limoncello, the chef told me how he makes it, emphasizing that a main ingredient is patience. The dish requires four hours to cook and a lot of stirring,” he warned.  Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so a truly Roman dish should take some time.


This recipe is adapted from Capo di Ferro’s Rigatoni alla Vaccinara. It's delicious by itself, but also a great ragu for pasta.




Roman-Style Braised Oxtail

(serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 pounds oxtail, cut into 2-inch sections

1 tablespoon salt

1 small onion, roughly chopped

1/2 carrot, cubed

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

1/2 cup red wine

28 ounces tomatoes, peeled and chopped

About 3 cups beef stock

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves


In a heavy-bottom saucepot, heat the olive oil.  Season the oxtail pieces with salt, browning each side of the pieces. Remove; set aside.  Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan.  Sweat the onions until they are translucent, 5 minutes.  Add the carrots, cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the celery and garlic. Cook 3 minutes more.  Add the oxtail pieces back to the pot.  Deglaze with the wine over high heat, cooking about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes; bring to a boil.  Continue boiling to cook off some of the tomato water. Add the beef stock just to cover the meat, then the pepper and cloves. Bring to a boil.  Once it boils, lower the heat to simmer, cover with a circle of parchment paper, and cook for 4 hours (stirring occasionally).

Once the oxtail is tender, remove the pieces to a serving dish. Cover with aluminum foil; set aside.  Strain the sauce, pressing down on the vegetables to extract all the juices.  Skim all the fat off the top, and pour into a smaller saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, reducing by 1/4.  Taste for seasoning.  Pour the sauce over the oxtail and serve. Buon Appetito!


This post has been entered into the GranTourismo HomeAway Holiday Rentals Travel Blogging Competition.



Related Posts:

Roman Pasta Dishes and Ten Places to Eat Them in Rome

Food in Rome: Taste of Testaccio is Offal

Pizza al Taglio at Bonci's Pizzarium in Rome

Pasta all' Amatriciana

Cacio e Pepe in a Parmigiano Bowl – Inspired by Roma Sparita

Potato Gnocchi for Gnocchi Giovedi

Fettuccine ai Funghi – Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Autumn in Rome

Caramel Gelato and Five Favorite Gelaterie in Rome

Best Picnic Spots and Picnic Fare in Rome

Rome at Night in Photos

Rome with a View – Five Favorite Spots for Photo Ops in Rome

Villa d'Este in Photos – A Day Trip from Rome



  1. Terence Carter
    September 24th

    Looks delish! Gotta love the four hour cooking time. DId you see the one I did from Jerez in Spain?

  2. lara dunston
    September 24th

    YUM! Terry’s right – looks so delicious! Thanks so much for your entry into our Grantourismo blogging competition! Best of luck!

  3. Jozee
    September 24th

    The dish looks yummy.

  4. Corinne @ Gourmantic
    September 24th

    Looks delicious! Give me a glass of good vino and I’m happy. And I love the chef’s main ingredient: patience!
    Wonderful entry! Good luck with the competition, Kathy :)

  5. Jane-Anne
    September 25th

    Oh, my goodness, that looks delicous. I could bury my face in this dish and eat the whole lot.

  6. Paula
    September 25th

    Terrence is right – any meat that is simmered for four hours MUST be good, eh?

  7. Love, love oxtail!! I’ll making this in the weekend!!

  8. Food Lover Kathy
    September 30th

    Thanks Grace! Let me know how it turns out.

  9. Kiwivic
    October 3rd

    mmmm, mouthwatering – both the recipe and the photos!

  10. Mamma Mia!! Seeing sunny Rome, and your food !!! When is the next plane to Rome? This is one of my favourite dishes!! Perfectly executed!! Brava!!

  11. Sarah Warwick
    October 7th

    AMAZING – looks so good I want to eat it. Congrats on your win!

  12. Food Lover Kathy
    October 7th

    Sarah – Thanks very much! It was exciting to hear the news, and I’m very honored.

  13. Jonathan
    October 7th

    Congratulations. I love Oxtail and this particular recipe looks delicious.

  14. Kathy
    October 8th

    Jonathan – Thanks very much! Congratulations to you as well. I loved your Spaghetti alla Bottarga and the photos of Sardegna.

  15. Josh P. Dand
    October 16th

    I made this last weekend and it was fantastic. Also love your photos of the trastevere…

  16. Kathy
    October 16th

    Josh – Thank you! I’m glad you liked the dish and the photos.

  17. Tirso
    May 25th

    made this dish for Labor Day dinner..eccezionalmente excellente..

  18. Gisela Nino
    February 21st

    WOW, that dish is delicious!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.