Vaccinara (Roman Oxtail Stew)

Vaccinara WM 350

Vaccinara thickened and served with spaghetti

A wonderful recipe from The Art of Cooking, According to Me, by Benny the Chef.

Vaccinara (Roman Oxtail Stew) 


2 1/2 lbs of oxtail (already cut)
2 lbs of peeled tomatoes
5 ribs of celery
3 carrots
2 onions
1 cup of white wine
extra virgin olive oil
bay leaves
Crushed red pepper
All-purpose flour


Rinse the oxtail with very cold running water and dry with a towel. Put 1 cup of oil in a large saute’ pan and let it warm up over a high heat.

bennies oxtails

Searing oxtail

Flour the oxtail pieces and put in the pan with the oil. Sear the meat and adjust with salt. Add the wine, and fade away (this means to reduce, but I just love Benny’s term for it!). Add 1 cup of warm water and cook for a few minutes over a medium-low heat.

Remove the oxtail from the pan and set aside. Discard the grease. Clean and chop the onions, the carrots, and the celery. Put 1/2 cup of oil in another saute’ pan and let it warm up over medium-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for a few minutes.

Adjust with salt and crushed red pepper, and add 1 cup of water. Continue cooking over medium heat and stir occasionally.

Now, in a large pot place the oxtail and the peeled tomatoes. Add the vegetables, a couple cups of water, and bring to a boil.

Turn down the heat, add a couple of teaspoons of marjoram and bay leaves, and cook over low heat for a few hours. Stir occasionally and add some water if needed.

The oxtail should be ready when the meat begins to fall off the bone and the sauce is thick and dark red.

bennies vaccinara

Bennie’s Vaccinara – bring on the bread!

Serve it hot with a lot of good bread.

(!): The real Vaccinara is made by using just oxtail. The veal tail is used to prepare different dishes.

(?): Vaccinara is the most popular oxtail Roman stew. Its name comes from “Rione Regola,” which is one of the most ancient districts of Rome and very famous for the “vaccinari” (cattle butchers). Every Roman family has its own way to make the Vaccinara; some add ground meat,  while others like to use the guanciale, pancetta, or proscuitto to make the “soffritto” with the vegetables to add to the sauce. The Vaccinara is generally prepared in advance and used also as a pasta sauce, often sprinkled with Pecorino flakes and fresh chopped parsley.

(a): Add to the oxtail sauce a handful of pine nuts and raisins. Adjust the flavor with ground cinnamon and nutmeg, and finish with a sprinkle of chocolate flakes. The sweet and sour taste will turn on all your taste buds!

Spoon Mage™ Note: 

The book is an overview of the history of Rome and food, a bit of the autobiography of Benny, and a wonderful collection of simply irresistible recipes.Benny the Chef

When I made it, I added a bit of Italian imported tomato paste near the end to thicken the sauce as I wanted to serve it over pasta instead of in a bowl with bread. Other than that I made no changes in Benny’s superb recipe.

Oxtails are available in most large grocery stores. If you don’t see them, ask the butcher.

Many thanks to Benny for allowing me to share the Vaccinara.

Follow Benny at his Page on Facebook and start cooking the Roman way!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s