My wedding planner Catherine Cindy Leo went on vacation last week to Rome, Italy. I can’t imagine what it would be like to go to Europe now that I’m in my 30s. Oh the foods that I would enjoy! And the beautiful sites that I would see and take a gazillion photos of. I can’t wait to hear about her trip!
Catherine was a life saver when it came to my wedding. As you can see in a previous post, the wedding was a small, intimate affair…..and Catherine helped it all come to life without a hitch. So I’m dedicating this particular blog post to her and her trip to Rome.
Coda alla Vaccinara is a pretty popular Italian stew/ragu that originated from Rome. It is made with red wine and oxtail (or sometimes veal tail), plus miscellaneous vegetables. It is commonly served with some kind of pasta, polenta, or gnocchi.
According to Google and other websites, back throughout history, the upper class of the Roman society would always get the nicer cuts of meats, while the lower class were left with the choices that were not as appetizing, aka OFFAL. From tongue, tail, intestines, etc…..the lower class had to make due to stay fed. And the recipes that originated from their culinary imagination resulted in an array of deliciousness.
Personally, I like oxtail. In fact, I like eating a lot of the strange and peculiar choices of meats, among other things. My friends tend to think I am really strange and tease me all the time. The only thing I won’t eat are bugs or insects, eyeballs or brains. However, if I’m trapped on a deserted island………
Okay, okay! Enough of the strange and peculiar, let’s get back to the Coda alla Vaccinara.
- 4 lbs. of Oxtail
- 3 Cup of Water
- 3 Cup of Red Wine
- 1 Cup of Chopped Celery
- 1 Cup of Chopped Onion
- 1 Cup of Chopped Panchetta
- 1 Cup of Chopped Tomatoes or Canned Stewed Tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp Freshly Chopped Garlic
- 1 Cup of Beef Stock or Beef Bouillon
- 4-6 Cloves or Star Anise
- 2-4 Bay Leaves
- Salt & Pepper to taste
According to several different recipes I’ve found online, cooking this over the stove will take up to 4 hours to really braise the heck out of the oxtail to get the meat to fall off the bone and for the flavors to all mind meld together. Let’s see if our trusty Peggy can do this in about 1-1/2 hours!!!
What I like to do is pre-cook the oxtail in just plain water first for about 5 minutes in the pressure cooker. What this does is get all the grime and meat residue cooked off the meat and float in the water. It makes it easier to discard all that gunk so they aren’t floating around in the stew later.
Trim off as much as the fat from the oxtail as you can. Then place all of it into the pressure cooker pot. Add about 3 cups of filtered drinking water. Set the pressure cooker to cook for 5-minutes. Lock and load!!!
During this time, you can prepare all the vegetables and other ingredients.
When the pre-cooking of the oxtail is complete, release the pressure and remove the cooking pot. Drain all the water from inside and rinse the oxtail so all the gunk and grime is washed away. Put all the oxtail back into the main cooking pot and add all the other remaining ingredients.
Remember, the amount of liquid in this recipe is not very much compared to the Oxtail Vegetable Soup I’ve made before. (The consistency of this dish should be thick, so reducing the liquid later in the cooking cycle may be necessary.)
Turn the lid and lock it into position. Adjust the pressure release valve to AIRTIGHT. Press the PRESSURE COOKER TIME button to 75-minutes. That is only an hour and fifteen minutes. All the other ingredients are considered delicate vegetables, but it’s okay, you want the pressure cooker to cook them to the point of disintegrating. It’s the oxtail that needs to stand out and be the star of the dish.
You can prepare some rice, Italian pasta, polenta, gnocchi or whatever you want to serve with the ragu.
Or you can take photos of your friend’s adorable little doggie! YAY!
When the cooking cycle is complete. You can choose to let the machine drop down in pressure on its own naturally, or you can be impatient like I am and Exhaust all the pressure from the valve on top.
The oxtails themselves will release a lot of liquid while cooking. So ladle out about half of the liquid and discard. Be careful not to remove any of the cooked vegetables if you can.
Take out the oxtails individually as well and set aside.
Now we’re going to reduce the liquid to thicken it. Press the START button on the pressure cooker to begin the heating process. You can leave the lid open at this time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Reducing the sauce down will take a few minutes depending on how much liquid is in the pot. I’d say you can add a few tablespoons of butter, but I like to keep this recipe a bit low on the calorie count as much as I can. So add some flour.
The kitchen smells wonderful right now!!! I also have some cooked pasta all ready and waiting to be drenched in some oxtail ragu. The wine sauce has deliciously infused with everything. It’s dinner time!!! Come and get it!!!
(Sorry for the blurry and crappy photos of the finished product, there was a rain storm and I was lacking in some serious natural light. Long story!)