Roman-Style Rigatoni with Oxtail Ragù

Brimming with tomatoes, celery, and tender braised beef, pasta al sugo di coda is the pinnacle of Italian comfort food.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    12 hours


By Katie Parla

Published on February 6, 2023

This Roman-style oxtail ragù recipe calls for no garlic or onions, which might sound like a red flag to some. But trust us—the deep, pure flavor of stewed beef with tomatoes and celery is nothing short of a revelation. Romans often make this ragù a day or two ahead, embracing how the flavors improve in the fridge.  


  • 2½ lb. oxtails, trimmed (see footnote)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. lard, or olive oil
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1½ (28-oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes, juice reserved, coarsely chopped
  • 5 medium celery stalks, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb. dry rigatoni or bombolotti pasta
  • ⅓ cup finely grated Pecorino Romano


Step 1

In a large bowl, season the oxtails generously with salt and black pepper and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 8–24 hours.

Step 2

Using paper towels, blot the meat dry. In a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat, melt the lard. When it’s hot and shimmering, working in batches if necessary, add the oxtails and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes.

Step 3

Add the wine and cook until reduced slightly, about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and their juices, celery, and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to maintain a strong simmer, then cover and cook, turning the oxtails every 30 minutes or so, until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours.

Step 4

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a plate. Place a food mill over a large bowl and, working in batches, purée the sauce (see footnote). Pick the meat off the bones (discarding them) and add it to the bowl with the sauce, then return the ragù to the pot, cover, and turn the heat to low.

Step 5

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil, then add the pasta and cook until al dente, 11–13 minutes. Drain, then return the pasta to the pot and stir in 3 cups of the sauce, or more to taste. (Reserve leftover sauce for another use.) Serve topped with the Pecorino.

Notes: Frozen oxtails can be used in place of fresh; be sure to thaw them completely before proceeding. An immersion or regular blender will also work for puréeing the sauce, but before processing, be sure to fish out any small pieces of bone that may have come loose during cooking. 

This recipe is from Parla’s Pastas, a column by the Rome-based, New York Times best-selling cookbook author Katie Parla covering traditional and inspired recipes from Italy’s 20 regions. Get ready for a carb-driven journey through the trattorias of Rome, the kitchens of Sicily (her ancestral homeland), rural Campania, and beyond. Fire up a pot of water, and andiamo!

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