This is a great dish, one of those dish that you love to prepare and eat in a cool and cloudy day, like today for example 😀
I like this dish because it’s one of those dish where you can have a great taste with an ingredient that, at least once, it was considered poor and it’s one of those parts of the animal that most of people don’t think to buy, but it would be a pity to waste it, and not only…I think that the most tasty parts are often the ones that most of people don’t buy 🙂 and it’s also quite cheap 🙂
In this case, the tail is considered the best cut between the so called “quinto quarto“, which means “fifth quarter”, which mostly consists in the offal of the beef, but we can consider also the tail between the traditionally “poor” cuts.
Just to know, it is a traditional recipe of Rome, and the name comes from the word “Vaccinari”, which it indicated the butchers of “Regola” district, in Rome as we said. After they had cut the animal, they received the offal and other poor cuts like the tail.
It is used to say that there are 2 variants of this recipe: one more “simple” (what I will do), and another one in which in the end is added a sauce made with pine nuts, raisins and cacao. The second one originated between the houses of the more wealthy families at the time, and nowadays it is sometimes served in the restaurants, maybe I’ll show it in another post.
I’m not gonna do the second version not because I don’t like it (for example, in Tuscany I ate an ancient wild boar recipe made with cacao and raisins, it was very good), but because I wanted to save some of the sauce to make an amazing pasta (click here to see) in the evening or the day after 🙂 and I think cacao and raisins don’t fit with it.
Let’s see the recipe now!
INGREDIENTS (4 people):
- 1 beef tail, about 1,3/1,5 kg
- 1 medium size onion
- half carrot
- 1 rib of celery
- 1 glass of dry white wine (but you can use also a red wine, if you prefer)
- 30-40g of lardo/fatback (not smoked)
- 2 tablespoons of extravirgin olive oil
- 800-1000 ml of tomato sauce (or tomato pulp, or “pomodori pelati”)
- meat soup (or simply hot water)
- 1-2 spoons of pine nuts (optional)
- First of all, if your butcher didn’t do it cut the tail into pieces of the same thickness about. It’s easy, you just need a big knife and you can cut it quite easily. Then wash it under running water, and dry it.
- Warm the meat soup in a pot, or if you don’t have soup, warm up some water, half liter should be enough.
- Cut the onion, the celery and the carrot very small, and cut and hit the lardo with the knife until it’s creamy.
- Now take a large and higher pan, add the extra virgin olive oil and lard, and heat them up. (if you want the recipe to be a little bit lighter, don’t use the lardo but just some more extra virgin olive oil. It will be also good, but a bit less tasty 😛 )
- When the oil and the lard are hot, add the vegetables and let them brown at low flame until they are soft, about 10/15 minutes.
- Now we have to brown the meat, so take out the vegetables from the pan (otherwise they would burn), make the flame higher and put the pieces of tail to brown. Move them on all their sides, until they get a nice color.
- Once the meat is browned, simmer with the white wine until it’s reduced.
- Then put back the vegetables in the pan together with the tail, add a couple of ladles of soup (or hot water), wait that it starts boiling, and then set the flame lower and let it go for about half an hour.
- When the soup/water is reduced, add all the tomato sauce, add the salt, set the flame a bit higher until it starts to boil again, then set the flame low and let it simmer slowly. Keep turning the pieces of meat every about 1 hour. The meat must be always covered with sauce.
- We will need from this moment another 3 hours at least, or even more (in some old regional cookbooks they say even 5 or 6 hours long, really when the meat falls from the bones), it depends also from the animal. In my case, from the moment I seared the meat, I cooked the beef tail for almost 4 hours long. It’s ready when the fork can enter easily in the meat. If meanwhile the tomato sauce should reduce too much, add some little soup/hot water sometimes. Remember that the final sauce must be quite thick.
- In the last half an hour I added also the pine nuts, since I had at home, but you can skip this step. The second version of this recipe says that when the tail is almost ready, you prepare in another pan a sauce made with some of the tail sauce, boiled celery, pine nuts, raisins and cacao, you cook it for bout 10-15 minutes and then you add it to the tail. But I didn’t do it this time (because I wanted to keep some to make a pasta later, and for that cacao is not the best).
- Control if the sauce has enough salt, and then finally serve it 🙂 we ate it in this case next to a good polenta, it’s not typical from Rome but it fits well in my opinion 🙂
- It’s not maybe the best looking dish, but as the wise man said “if it’s very good, who cares” 😀
- Enjoy with a red wine, and if you can, keep some sauce for a very tasty pasta 😉
Beef: Angus from “Terra Pannonia”