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On our next culinary stroll through the regions of Italy we stumble upon the cuisines of the central regions of Umbria and Lazio. Having many similarities, they also remain diverse, with Umbrian cuisine simplistic, seasonal and Etruscan in style, as opposed to the heavy, densely flavoured, offal rich nature of Lazio dishes.

The Lazio region boasts fertile hills, a sandy coastline and coastal plain, plus the capital city itself, Rome. Dishes here are doused in liberal seasoning such as herbs, anchovies, garlic and oil.

The habit of heavy seasoning stems from ancient Roman practices when peasants, who lived outside of the city walls, had to be resourceful and eat all parts of an animal. Now, offal and lesser cuts of beef and pork are still prominent in this area.

Lamb is very popular in the region, used in dishes such as roasted young lamb, abbacchio al forno and abbacchio scottodito, simple and succulent fried strips of young lamb.

Lazio likes it big, chunky, hearty and rich. Varieties such as bucatini and conchigli are served in a carbonara or with a spicy arrabbiata sauce. Fettucine alla Romana prosciutto, chicken giblets and tomatoes is a popular dish, as is gnocchi alla Romana, rich gnocchi baked with cheese and butter.

Carciofi alla giudea Porchetta is lightly fried artichokes perfect as antipasti.

Baccala is a popular deep-fried salted cod dish, and fiori di zucca zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and flavoursome anchovies is a beautiful light recipe loved in this region.

Lazio’s most popular cheese is an aged sheep-milk variety called pecorino Romano.

It may not have a coastline, but the region is blessed with Lake Trasimeno, the river Tiber and peaceful green hills. I’ts dishes are famous for being simplistically meaty and lavished with refined olives and flavoured with black truffle.

Simplicity is key with meat in Umbria, with the likes of fagiano all’uva, traditional pheasant cooked with grapes.

Tegamaccio is a flavoursome and hearty freshwater fish stew.

The rich spaghetti alla norcina is intensely flavoured with black truffle, oil, sausages, and cream.

Here is an exquisite dish of peasant Roman origins, a succulent rustic dish of traditional Italian cooking at its best. Coda alla Vaccinara – Oxtail Vaccinara style



  • 1 kg beefoxtail
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 x large onion, chopped
  • 1 x carrot, chopped
  • 2 x celery stalks
  • 2 x garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 400 ml white wine
  • 400g chopped peeled tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 100g lard, cured pork cheek or pancetta

For the sauce:

  • 20g pine nuts
  • 30g raisins
  • 3 x celerystalks
  • 2g x cocoa bitterpowder


  1. Wash the oxtail to remove any blood and clean with a cloth
  2. Chop the garlic, onion, carrot and celery finely
  3. Brown off the bacon in an oiled sauce pan, once browned sear the oxtail in the pan and add the cloves, chopped vegetables and a tablespoon of parsley, then simmer
  4. Add the salt, pepper and white wine and continue to simmer over a low heat in a closed pan for 20 minutes
  5. Add the tomatoes then cook with the lid on for 2-3 hours
  6. Whilst the oxtail is cooking, clean two stalks of celery and chop into small pieces before blanching in boiling water for 3 minutes.Soak the raisins until soft
  7. Once the oxtail meat is breaking away from the bone, ladle some of the sauce into another pan and dissolve the cocoa powder
  8. Once dissolved, stir back into the oxtail pan, adding in the celery, raisins and pine nuts, mix well and cook for another five minutes. Serve with creamed polenta