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Coda alla vaccinara: a dip in the Roman tradition of other times

Coda alla vaccinara

Coda alla vaccinara is a second dish typical of Roman cuisine with very ancient origins. Here is the story and the steps of the preparation.

The coda alla vaccinara represents in all respects the typical Roman cuisine . Prepared with a handful of ingredients, essential to enhance the flavor of this poor and unusual cut of meat, it is served in all the restaurants of the capital. The secret to getting a really good oxtail is cooking. In fact, only with long cooking the meat will become soft. But why is this dish so called? This dish owes its name to the vaccinators , the slaughterers of animals who, as early as 1300, used to take home the scraps of slaughter that could not be sold to the lords of the city. The geographical location is that of the Regola district of Rome, where these vacciners lived.

Coda alla vaccinara: the story (and why it's called that)

In reality, the dish as we know it today was born only around 1887, in the Testaccio district, where in the meantime the slaughterhouse had moved. Opposite was the Checchino trattoria and there the vaccinators would queue to have a dish cooked with their fifth quarter , that is the scraps. The first quarter, the best, went to the nobility, the second to the clergy, the third to the common people, the fourth to the army. The waste of each of these parts instead belonged to the vaccinators.

In that trattoria Ferminia, daughter of the managers, invents the recipe handed down to this day: she combines the gaffes, the cheeks of the ox, to those scraps, making it softer.

Coda alla vaccinara
Coda alla vaccinara

How to cook the oxtail: the original recipe

  1. Rinse the tail under cold water and cut it into pieces at the joints. You will get the so-called drums .
  2. In a pan pour some oil and fry the lard. Add the meat and brown, then add onion , celery and carrot cut into chunks and cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Deglaze with the white wine and when you no longer smell alcohol rising from the pan, add the mashed tomatoes with a fork.
  4. Add salt and pepper and cook for at least 3 hours , uncovered and stirring occasionally. If necessary, you can add a few tablespoons of hot water. The important thing is to prevent the sauce from drying out excessively.
  5. According to the Roman tradition, the oxtail is served with a sauce based on pine nuts and… cocoa . Boil the celery and place it in a pan together with the tail sauce, pine nuts, raisins and cocoa. Simmer a few minutes. You can serve with or without this sauce: they are two variants that coexist in the Roman tradition.

If this dip into Roman cuisine has intrigued you, we propose another typical recipe, tripe alla romana .


Coda alla vaccinara can be kept in the refrigerator , well covered with plastic wrap, for a maximum of one day, but the advice is to enjoy it immediately as soon as it is cooked.

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