Simple pleasures

Coda Alla Vaccinara

I love meat that needs cooking for hours until it falls apart. Cheek, shin and brisket for example all go really well in the slow cooker. Five minutes work at the beginning of the day and then in the evening you have a rich, delicious meal. Think Boeuf Bourgignon, pulled pork or lamb shanks in a rich tomato sauce.

Most of the tougher meats are also the cheaper ones, which is ridiculous really. There’s so much more flavour in the meat that’s been well worked than in the lazy bits and I’m especially a fan of oxtail. Oxtail soup was very popular in England, but seeing as how I don’t live in 1943, I never make it.

This recipe is based on the Roman oxtail stew ‘coda alla vaccinara’ and while I also don’t live in Ancient Rome, some dishes are timeless. Usually, raisins or candied fruit are added to give a sweet and sour taste to the dish, but I’ve left that out as I’m not a fan. I was tempted to serve it with some large prawns for the sweetness, I’ve been known to pair the two before. However, I’ve just kept this one simple and will serve the prawns on their own, charred with chilli, garlic, parsley and some good olive oil.

This makes a great  sauce for pappardelle but works just as well on it’s own and definitely tastes better the next day. It’s also a great way to use up loads of celery. Is there anyone out there who actually has managed to get through a whole head of the stuff before it starts to limpen?

If you don’t have a slow cooker, just put it on the lowest possible heat and check it every now and then to make sure it’s not burning. A good stir never hurt anyone. I would recommend getting one though, they’re great, especially in the winter months when you need those cosier, richer meals to get you through the dark evenings. They also make a pretty good ersatz sous vide machine if you’re that way inclined.

4 chunks of oxtail
1 head of celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 medium stick of cinnmon
A sprig of rosemary
Some thyme
A pinch of dried oregano
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A tinful of beef stock or just water
2 tbsp tomato puree
A glass of red wine thrown in if you fancy
Salt and plenty of pepper to season

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