Coda alla vaccinara recipe – typical roman dish

The recipe for Coda alla vaccinara is deeply rooted in Roma, and you can find it in every typical roman restaurant.

Coda alla vaccinara is actually one of the most typical dish 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 ox 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
Boil the tail for 20 to 30 minutes to get rid of the excess fats. (this is not necessary if you are using veal).

Step 2
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 3
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 4
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 5
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.

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