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Oxtail stew (Coda alla vaccinara)

You'll need

2.5 kg lean oxtail, cut into pieces at joints 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil 20 gm lardo, finely chopped (see note) 1 small onion, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 3 whole cloves 250 ml (1 cup) white wine 2 kg canned tomatoes   Polenta 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock 250 gm polenta 50 gm butter   Celery sauce 1 celery, leaves removed and stalks stringed and cut into 8cm lengths 1 small handful of Sicilian sultanas 12 pine nuts 20 gm dark chocolate, grated


  • 01
  • Rinse oxtail under cold running water and pat dry with absorbent paper. Heat olive oil and lardo in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat, add oxtail and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until brown. Add onion, garlic and cloves and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, add white wine, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until onion is soft and white wine has reduced to one third. Add tomatoes, cover and cook gently for 5-6 hours, or until meat is almost falling off the bone.
  • 02
  • For polenta, bring chicken stock to the boil, sprinkle over polenta and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes or until it reaches a porridge-like consistency. Add butter and season to taste. Pour into a baking paper-lined 20cm x 20cm baking tray and stand until set.
  • 03
  • For celery sauce, steam celery in a steamer over boiling water for 10 minutes or until celery is tender. Remove oxtail from sauce and set aside. Add celery, sultanas, pine nuts and chocolate to sauce and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens, then return oxtail to pan and cook until warmed through.
  • 04
  • To serve, warm polenta in oven, then slice into 2cm-thick pieces, arrange on plates and spoon over oxtail.
Note Lardo or pork back fat is available from butchers and select delicatessens, but may need to be ordered ahead.

"A highlight of my recent trip to Rome was an evening at Checchino Dal 1887. Is it possible to track down Francesco Mariani's recipe for oxtail stew?"
Tristan Dunn, Newtown, NSW

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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

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