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Oxtail from the Maremma cowherd with celery in a light sauce

  • A)
  • 1 oxtail, de-fatted and cut into rounds as for “ossobuco” (get your butcher to cut it for you)
  • 2 meat stock cubes
  • 1 onion slightly crushed and stuck with 4 cloves
  • 2 carrots broken in half
  • 1 celery stalk in pieces
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 large pinch of dried basil
  • sea salt
  • B)
  • Chop together (not too finely):
    1 red onion
    1 celery stalk
    1 carrot
    the leaves of a small twig of rosemary
    the leaves of a tuft of sage
    the rind (yellow only) of ½ orange and ½ lemon
  • 1/2 kg peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large pinch of dried basil
  • olive oil
  • powdered cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • the tender heart of a celery cut into pieces
The evening before cooking, put the oxtail in a container cover with cold water and leave for the night to whiten and purge it, if possible change the water a few times or leave it under a slightly running tap. When ready to cook put the tail in a pan with cold water and the ingredients at point A) and allow to boil slowly for 50 minutes. Cook the celery in slightly salted water for 10-12 minutes. In the meantime in a thick bottomed stew pan and over a high heat, brown the chopped ingredients at point B) with 5-6 spoons oil until the are nut coloured, taking care that nothing sticks. When well browned, add the tomatoes blended with the basil and cook slowly for 10 minutes. Drain the tail and put it in the pan with the sauce, stir and amalgamate well, cook slowly for 15-16 minutes covered, then add the celery pieces and finish the cooking, another 20 minutes, if it becomes dry, even though cooked slowly with a lid, add stock from the celery. Taste before serving and adjust seasoning, then lightly sprinkle over the powdered cinnamon.
It is the Maremmana version of the “vaccinara” from Lazio. Without the previous frying of bacon and celery in the pan, instead of dispersing the flavour one obtains an incredible ‘lightening’ of the dish, to the extent that is it admissible even to those with problems (true or imagined) of their figure or their digestion.

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni

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