Italian Meat Recipes

How to make Coda alla Vaccinara (Roman Oxtail Stew: The Real Recipe)

The coda alla vaccinara (in Italian, “coda” means tail) is another food tied to the Roman tradition of the “quintoquarto”. It is the result of the inventiveness of the roman poorer class, able to create a recipe that has now entered into the history of Rome.


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History of coda alla vaccinara

The story of the coda alla vaccinara is born in the heart of Rome, in the Regola district, where the “vaccinari” lived; they were the slaughterers working in the near slaughterhouse.

These workers were paid at the end of the day even with animal waste, which could not be sold to the wealthy class.

Some of these scraps were difficult to cook: the tail and cheeks, for example, were tough and had a very strong taste due to the high concentration of blood; but it is known that in difficult times nothing is thrown away.


After several attempts the recipe of the coda alla vaccinara was created.

Indeed, there are two versions of this plate, both considered original, which differ mainly in the final part of the preparation.

One version, the poorest, uses the animal’s tail and cheeks – usually veal or beef – simply cooked in gravy; the other version, spread among the wealthy population, involves adding bitter cocoa, raisins, pine nuts and spices almost at the end of cooking.

The tail is been boiled, so that the broth can be used to prepare other dishes and, for example, season a plate of rigatoni.

The recipe that we propose below is the richest one and provides for the use of cocoa, pine nuts and raisins.

These ingredients are added at the end of cooking, so if you prefer the simple version, just skip the last step.

The original recipe includes the use of lard, but you can also not put it and use only olive oil.


Servings: Serves 4


  • 1 tail of veal or beef
  • 1 celery stalk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 35 oz of peeled tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 glass of white wines
  • cloves
  • pine nuts
  • raisins
  • bitter cocoa


  1. Cut the tail into pieces following the joints (or ask your butcher to do it).
  2. Wash the pieces of meat to remove the blood and dry them with a cloth.
  3. Chop the celery (and keep a little aside), carrot, garlic and onion.
  4. In a pot pour the oil and the lard and brown them. If you prefer, put only the olive oil. Then add the tail and let it brown.
  5. Add the chopped vegetables and some cloves and cook for a few minutes, mixing occasionally.
  6. Season with salt and pepper and add white wine, cover with lid and cook for half an hour on low heat.
  7. Now add the tomatoes and let them cook for another 3 or 4 hours, so the meat softens. Mix from time to time and add water if the sauce dries too much.
  8. In the meantime, put the raisins in soak, then squeeze it and boil the celery.
  9. When cooking is almost complete, add celery, raisins, pine nuts and a teaspoon of bitter cocoa and mix everything.
  10. Let it cook for about 15 minutes more and then serve. You can also use sauces to dress the pasta.


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