All oxtail recipes are time-consuming since the tough meat requires long, slow cooking to tenderize. But some recipes are more complicated than others. Oxtails can make a simple one-pot meal when braised with wine and aromatics, as in the recipe for Coda Alla Vaccinara. Or they can turn into a weekend project resulting in a classic consomme, as with the recipe for Oxtail Consomme With Cinnamon and Pear.

Coda Alla Vaccinara

(Oxtails in the Vaccinara Style)

4 servings

Cesare Lanfranconi, chef-owner of Ristorante Tosca, prefers a simple approach to oxtails. For a rustic, Roman dinner he would serve the prepared oxtail on the bone atop risotto or polenta along with sauteed spinach, Swiss chard or cabbage.

2 pounds oxtails

8 ounces beef cheek (may substitute skirt or flank steak), cut into 1-inch pieces

2 ounces pancetta, minced

2 tablespoons lard (may substitute butter)

1 small onion, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice

1 small carrot, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup canned plum tomatoes (roughly crushed with your hands)

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the oxtails and beef cheeks and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat, heat the pancetta, lard, onion, carrot and garlic, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the oxtails and beef, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, turning as necessary, until golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. (You may need to work in batches.)

Add the wine and cook until almost completely evaporated. Add the tomatoes, water and parsley bring to a gentle simmer (it should barely bubble). Cover and simmer gently, stirring and turning the meat occasionally, for about 3 hours, until the meat is nearly falling off the bone. Add the celery and cook for an additional half-hour.

Serve hot.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 533 calories, 48 gm protein, 6 gm carbohydrates, 32 gm fat, 116 mg cholesterol, 14 gm saturated fat, 445 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Oxtail Consomme With Cinnamon and Pear

6 main-course or 12 first-course servings

Johnny Monis, chef of Komi near Dupont Circle, has updated the traditional oxtail consomme by adding shredded oxtail, a touch of cinnamon and a dice of sweet potato, parsnip and pear. The resulting broth has a flavor that is similar to that of Vietnamese pho. At the restaurant he adds a handmade ravioli stuffed with foie gras and oxtail meat to the dish.

6 to 7 pounds oxtails

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 1 cup flour

7 tablespoons canola oil, or as needed

1 cup diced yellow onion (about 1 yellow onion)

1/2 cup diced fennel (about 1 medium bulb)

1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery

1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot

1 tablespoon minced, peeled ginger root

1 cup red wine, brandy, sherry or white port

1/4 bunch fresh thyme

1 to 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

2 cinnamon sticks

1 to 2 whole cloves

Water to cover oxtails

Oxtail Consomme (recipe follows)

1 cup peeled, diced sweet potato

1 cup peeled, diced parsnips

1 cup peeled, diced pear (preferably Asian pear)

1 scant tablespoon very finely chopped shallots

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the oxtails: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Season the oxtails on all sides with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the oxtail in flour, shaking to remove any excess.

In a large, wide, deep-sided pot over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until hot but not smoking. Add the oxtails, being careful not to crowd the pot (you will need to work in batches) and cook, turning as necessary, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining oxtails and an additional 2 tablespoons of oil. Set the oxtails aside.

If there are any drippings in the pot, pour them out but do not wipe out the pot. Return the pot to medium heat and add 1 more tablespoon of oil. Add the onion, fennel, celery, carrot and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the wine to the pot, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes. Return the oxtails to the pot along with the thyme, bay leaves, cinnamon and clove(s). Add enough water to just barely cover the oxtails, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a gentle simmer. (The liquid should just barely bubble.) Cover the pot with aluminum foil and transfer to the preheated oven. (If the pot is not ovenproof, transfer the contents to a large roasting or braising pan.) Braise the oxtails for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Allow the oxtails to cool to room temperature in the braising liquid. When cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, discarding the bone and gristle. You should have at least 4 cups of shredded meat. Set aside. Skim any fat and impurities that rise to the top of the braising liquid. Strain the braising liquid, discarding the solids. You should have about 8 cups of liquid. Cover and refrigerate.

Make the Oxtail Consomme.

In a saute pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoon of oil. Add the sweet potatoes and saute until tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the parsnips to the pan and saute until tender, adding additional oil as necessary, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the sweet potatoes. Add the pear and saute for 3 minutes. Add the shallots and saute for 1 minute. Add the reserved shredded oxtail meat to the pan and heat until warmed through. Add the potato, parsnip and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat.

To serve, divide the meat and vegetable mixture evenly among 6 soup bowls, mounding the mixture in the center of each bowl. Ladle the hot consomme around the meat mixture, using a scant cup per serving.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving (based on 12): 636 calories, 64 gm protein, 10 gm carbohydrates, 33 gm fat, 139 mg cholesterol, 12 gm saturated fat, 226 mg sodium, 1 gm dietary fiber

Oxtail Consomme

Makes about 5 to 6 cups

Consomme is more intensely flavored and clearer than stock. This is in large part due to a mixture of egg whites, meat and vegetables (referred to by chefs as a "raft") that imparts flavor to and absorb impurities from the stock.

3 egg whites

1/2 pound lean ground veal or beef

1/4 cup diced leeks

1/4 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1/4 cup diced celery

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted

1 to 2 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

About 8 cups oxtail braising liquid (from braised oxtail in Oxtail Consomme With Cinnamon and Pear; see preceding recipe), chilled

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until light and frothy. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine the veal, leeks, carrot, onion, celery, vinegar, fennel, cloves and cinnamon. Pour the egg whites over the veal and mix until combined. (The mixture will be loose and will not hold together.) Transfer the veal mixture to a stock pot and add the chilled oxtail braising liquid (which may be gelatinous when chilled).

Place the stock pot on medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot constantly until a raft (the veal mixture) begins to collect on the surface of the liquid. (The raft will resemble the scum on top of stock and should begin to form at 150 to 160 degrees.) Stop stirring and simmer gently, uncovered and without stirring, for 45 miutes. Monitor the heat very closely; do not allow the liquid to boil.

Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Using a ladle, break through the raft and transfer the liquid and raft to the strainer, one ladleful at a time. Discard the solids. If the strained consomme is cloudy, strain the liquid again using cheesecloth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately.

Ingredients too variable for meaningful nutritional analysis

Chef Johnny Monis shreds the oxtail meat he uses for his consomme at Komi on 17th Street NW. The dish is served with foie gras-stuffed ravioli.