Coda alla vaccinara-oxtail ragout

Creative teamwork in the kitchen: OXTAIL RAGOUT

Posted on Posted in Our Story, Recipes

At dueminuti, we believe that teamwork is the only path to success, also in the kitchen. As we continuously research new flavor and textures combinations, everyone is involved in the process, from the cashier to the head chef. Everyone tastes a dish during the different phases of its development, leveraging on the diverse culture and tradition of our team. If I had to pick a dish that summarizes our work environment it would be the Oxtail Ragout.

Oxtail is a traditional dish from Rome, “Coda alla vaccinara,” but I only started to cook it during my time in Beijing. At the San Yuan Li market, you could choose your own goods from the continuous small kiosks on the two sides of a long hallway. Shellfish, live fish, produce, fruits, cheese, tofu, tea, nuts of any kind, dozens of varieties of eggs, lamb, goat, pork, game and beef. It was there that I first saw a full oxtail and out of curiosity, I bought one and I cooked it for one of my pop-up dinner events, served with a saffron risotto and sweet and sour cipollini onion.

As soon as the cold weather arrived in Seattle, we knew that it was time to dismiss some of our more summer oriented dishes for more comfortable, warming ones. I am a deep lover of slow cooking: sous vide and brazing are the techniques that I cherish the most.

Noah (our sous chef) and I decided that an oxtail ragout would be the perfect recipe for our winter beef-dish proposal. We sourced Pittman Hills beef from Oregon: an amazing grass-fed and sustainably grown cattle. We braised the meat overnight in the oven, we assembled the dish and then we topped it with some horseradish gremolata for a refreshing zing. The flavors were bold, layered and very distinguished. But something was missing in the equation. We pondered for a while how to add a green note, a refreshing flavor and a note of crunchiness but in all honestly we were a bit stuck. Luckily our policy of having all of our team members taste every dish paid off.

A few days later Arjun, our sustainability manager, was playing in the garden with various seeds that he avidly collected. It was also a few days that he was pushing us in the kitchen to use his sprouts. I called him to taste the oxtail ragout and he joined the brainstorm of how to add some crunchiness and lightness to the dish. Later on, meanwhile rinsing his seeds he yelled: “Dude, sprouts! Use this sprouts….” They were alfalfa sprouts: the perfect healthy/green note to the dish.

RECIPE (serves 12 people)

For the oxtail sauce

10 lb       Beef Oxtail

2 lb         Red onion (minced)

12 oz       Carrot (minced)

12 oz       Celery (minced)

8 oz         Parsnip

2 oz         Garlic

2 sprigs  Thyme

1 sprig     Rosemary

1 cup        Tomato paste

3 cups      San Marzano Tomato

5 tbsp.     EVOO

4 tbsp.     Salt

2 tbsp.     Black Pepper (ground)

2 tbsp.     Bay leaves

4 quarts  Brown beef stock (see recipe on the blog)

Full body red wine, one bottle (we use a Chianti ’14)


  1. Cut the oxtail at the joints, season it with salt and pepper and let it rest overnight in the fridge.
  2. Take a thick bottom sauce pot, on medium/high heat sear the oxtail pieces on all sides until dark brown.
  3. Decreased the heat to medium/low. Add the minced onion and sweat until translucent, around 8/10 minutes. This will make the vegetation water evaporate and you will be left only with the sweet flavors of the onion.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the carrot, celery and parsnip. Cook until the vegetables are soft.
  6. Add the tomato paste and cook it until the tomato turns to a rusty red color.
  7. Add the San Marzano tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the thymes and the bay leaves.
  9. Add the red wine, the meat and then the brown beef stock.
  10. Bring to the simmer, transfer to oven trays, cover with aluminum foil and braise for around 8 hours at 250 F.
  11. The meat should be now fork tender. Using tongues remove it from the braise and place it to cool on a rack until it is cool enough to handle it.
  12. Shred the meat and remove all the bones. Return the meat to the braising liquid, reduce it and adjust the seasoning.

For the horseradish gremolata

1 tbsp.     Horseradish (grated)

3 tbsp.     Italian parsley (minced)

1 tbsp.      Orange zest (grated)

  1. Mix the horseradish, the parsley, and the orange zest.

For the rosemary garlic EVOO

3 sprigs      Rosemary

1 cup           Garlic (peeled cloves)

4 cups        EVOO

  1. Place the ingredient in a tray and roast in the oven for 25 minutes at 300 F.
  2. Filter the olive oil and reserve it.

Finish the plate

2 tbsp.      Parmigiano reggiano 24 months aged

2 tbsp.      Alfaalfa sprouts

1 tbsp.        Horseradish gremolata

  1. Cook your favorite pasta in boiling salted water.
  2. Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding some pasta water. Off the heat fold in the cheese and keep tossing until well incorporated.
  3. Plate and top with the horseradish gremolata and a round mound of the alfalfa. Drizzle some rosemary olive oil and serve.

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