Pici and Oxtail Ragu


Ox-Tail Ragu with Pici

I absolutely love cooking ox tail, it’s amazing on its own and even better with pasta. It’s the perfect Sunday meal and the best part is, once you’ve made your sauce, it just cooks itself whilst you nestle into a beer or wine, roll some pici, or preferably both.

Pici is one of my favourite noodles and one of the easiest to make by hand. It’s the perfect first shape for anyone wanting to have a crack at making their own pasta. If you don’t have the time to make your own pici, pick up a packet of good quality rigatoni or pappardelle from your local Harris Farm!


For the ragu:

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • 1kg oxtail (pre-chopped into large medallions)

  • Sea salt

  • 2 carrots, diced

  • 2 brown onions, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed, skin removed

  • 3 sticks celery, diced

  • 2 bay leaves

  • ½ a can of beer (ale is best)

  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes

  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

  • 1 ½ tbsp. unsalted butter

  • Chardonnay vinegar (or other sweet/late harvest vinegar) to taste

  • Freshly cracked pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano – to finish

 For the pasta:

  • 250g semolina

  • 250g “00” flour

  • 240mL water


  1. Pop a heavy based casserole on the stove over high heat and add a good whack of olive oil (around 1 ½ tbsp.). Season your ox-tail with sea salt and start sealing the meat off in the pot. Allow to brown nicely on both sides before removing the meat to a plate.

  2. Keep the pot going, tipping off a bit of the fat if there’s excess, and pop your diced carrots in there. Allow to colour slightly before adding the onions, garlic, celery and bay. Cook on high for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly before adding a good pinch of salt. This will allow the veg to release a bit of juice and deglaze the pan a touch.

  3. Add the half can of beer (the other half is for you), the tomatoes and a cup of water, bring to the boil, add the tail back in, pop a lid on the pot allow to simmer over a very low heat. This will take around 3 hours of slow cooking. Be sure to keep an eye on the liquid levels, the meat should always be just covered so feel free to top up with water if need be.

  4. Whilst the meat is cooking, make your pasta dough!

  5. Mix the two flours in a large bowl, make a little well in the middle and slowly pour the water in whilst mixing with your hands. You can do this in a food processor if you want. It will start a little shaggy but as you mix, it should form a nice smooth dough.

  6. Turn the dough out onto the bench and give it a good knead – around 5-10 minutes should do the trick. Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest for at least half an hour on the counter.

  7. Once rested, remove from cling film, cut the dough into quarters, and start to roll into a log. As the log gets longer, cut in half and keep rolling until it’s about as thin and as long as a chopstick. I like my pici on the fatter side but it is really up to you as to how thick or thin you want to make them.

  8. Keep rolling the pici until you have used up your dough, making sure to shake a little semolina on the rolled noodles as you go so, they don’t stick together. You can lay them out on a semolina-dusted tray and gently cover with a tea towel whilst you’re waiting for the ox-tail to cook.

    Fresh rolled pici

  9. After a couple of hours cooking, check your oxtail. It will be cooked when it starts to fall off the bone. If ready, remove from sauce with a slotted spoon and pop onto a plate to rest/cool down a little (about 10 mins).

  10. Take your sauce off the heat. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water to the boil for your pici.

  11. When the meat is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the bone and add back to the sauce, discard the bones.

  12. When the water is boiling, chuck your pici in and turn your pot of sauce back onto a medium heat. The pici will take around 3 minutes to cook. Using tongs, lift the pasta straight out of the water and drop into the sauce, being sure to take a good whack of the pasta cooking water (about a ladle) with it. Give it a stir, add the parsley, butter, healthy pinch of sea salt and a splash of vinegar (about ½ tbsp.)

    Ox-tail pici

  13. Have a taste, season again with salt if needed and pop into bowls. Finish them off with a solid grating of Parmigiano!

Scott McComas-Williams is the executive chef at Ragazzi. You can follow him on Instagram