I know, oxtail does not sound that appealing, but once you try oxtail stew, your opinion of it just might change. From there on out, when you hear “Oxtail”, you will think of it as comfort food, that will warm your heart, especially on a cold dreary day. The Italian name, Coda Alla Vaccinara, translates to “Oxtail, butcher style”. This way of making oxtail originates from the region of Rome where all the slaughterhouses used to be. The slaughterhouse workers were often paid in part with the unwanted cattle leftovers. The oxtail was not the most desirable part of the cattle, but given to a butcher to stew for several hours, and now it transforms to a meal of desire.
Season oxtails well with salt and pepper.
Heat 5 to 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large dutch oven.
Place oxtails into the oil….
and brown evenly. This takes about 10 minutes or so.
Once browned, transfer to a plate.
I took 4 ounces of Prosciutto ends and diced it and ….
added 4 ounces of diced Pancetta to the dutch oven (in the remaining oil and juices) and stirred and cooked them for a minute before adding…..
Chopped onion, celery, garlic, carrots, cloves and bay leaves.
Cook for about 6 minutes, until soft, stirring frequently.
Add three tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for about 4 minutes or so.
Add wine and bring to a boil, until the wine evaporates and is well incorporated with the other ingredients, about 5 minutes.
Return the oxtails to the dutch oven.
Add the tomatoes and…
2 cups of water.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
Now add 5 celery stalks, either whole or cut in half. It’s your preference. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes more, until the celery is tender. It is at this point that you can either stir in the cinnamon or as I prefer to do, sprinkle it over each individual serving.
Transfer to a bowl and serve with crusty bread or over Polenta.
4 lbs. oxtails
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, diced
4 oz. prosciutto ends, diced
6 ribs celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 whole cloves
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 1/4 cup red dry wine
1 large (28 oz) can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, or plum tomatoes
Salt, pepper & cinnamon to taste
Season 4 lbs of oxtails well with salt and pepper. In a large dutch oven, heat 5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Place oxtails in pot and brown evenly, about 10 minutes. Once browned, remove to a plate. In the remaining oil and juices, put diced pancetta in the pot and cook for 1 minute. I had some nice prosciutto ends I got from the deli, so I diced them and cooked it with the pancetta. This of course is optional. Now add 1 celery stalk, chopped, 2 medium carrots, chopped, garlic, 1 large onion, chopped, 2 bay leaves and 5 whole cloves. Cook for about 6 minutes, until soft, stirring frequently. Stir in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Add wine and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes. Return the oxtails back to the pot. Roughly chop the tomatoes first before adding to the pot along with 2 cups of water. Momentarily bring to a boil and then cove and reduce heat to a medium simmer. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Add 5 whole celery stalks and cook uncovered until tender, around 30 – 40 minutes. Here is where you can get creative. Some recipes call for adding cinnamon, while others call for adding bitter chocolate, raisins, pine nuts, nutmeg, even candied fruit. I sprinkled cinnamon on each serving and served it with crusty baguette slices, to sop up all the goodness. It can also be served over polenta or rice.