Italian Guazzetto Ox-tail Recipe

Italian OxTail Stew Guazzetto
Italian OxTail Stew Guazzetto served over mashed potatoes. Credit: Matt Lincoln
  • 3 hrs 35 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 bowls (serves 4)
Ratings (6)

I was having a phone chat with a friend of mine of Italian extraction and mentioned I'd just bought some oxtails for oxtail soup. His response was "Gwa-CHET-to." To which I politely responded, "gesundheit." Turned out guazzetto means "splashed with wine," and although it refers to the sauce which can be used with fish or chicken or pork, Tom grew up eating it as an ox-tail stew. He didn't have a recipe (he's more an eater than a cook), so I did some research and found one on which I have adapted below.

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 oz dried porcini
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 12 oz. oxtails
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 onion — finely chopped
  • 1/2 carrot — finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1/2 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste*
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 cup homemade beef or chicken stock or 2 cups canned chicken stock

How to Make It

  1. Heat oven to 275dg Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil, remove from heat, and add dried porcini. Allow to rehydrate for 15 minutes. Remove mushrooms and reserve. Strain the water the mushrooms soaked in through a cheesecloth or a coffee filter and reserve.
  3. Generously season oxtails with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a small Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown oxtails on all sides. Set oxtails aside.
  1. Wrap clove, rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf in a small cheesecloth sack and tie with string.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and sweat onions and carrots for 10 minutes with a generous pinch of salt. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine and deglaze the pot. Add all remaining ingredients including oxtails, mushrooms, and mushroom liquid. Add enough stock to just cover the oxtails.
  3. Bring to a boil then immediately cover and transfer to a lower rack in the oven. Cook for three hours, topping up liquid with water or additional stock as necessary. Remove from oven.
  4. Remove oxtails and shred meat, reserving. Place pot on stove top and reduce to about 1 cups over medium-high heat. Add shredded meat and serve over pasta, polenta, or bread.
  5. I like this dish with sautéed broccoli rabe; its bitterness is a nice addition to the meal.


You will not taste the anchovy paste. Its purpose is to thicken the stew, and it does this beautifully without affecting the flavor.

A little bit about oxtails

Oxtails are a unique cow part. Like the brisket and shoulder, they are active muscles and well marbled with collagen (but not much fat), however, because the tail’s main job is swatting flies, unlike the shoulder and brisket it’s not a load-bearing body part. So lots of flavors and not overly tough. Also, while the stew cooks the collagen melts, and so does the marrow in the bones producing a wonderfully silky sauce. Guazzetto is usually served over pasta, but I also like it over mashed potatoes, polenta or cubes of bread.


Edited by Joy Nordenstrom