by Anna Lucca
Hi everyone, this time I would like to offer you a recipe for a very sophisticated winter dish which traditionally graces the table at Sunday lunch: the near-mythical beef braised in red wine.
Don’t panic! Don’t run away! Most of us lead hectic lives which, alas, leave us less and less time to devote to the preparation of complicated, involved dishes, often with cooking times so long you could measure them on a geological scale.
These dishes often have to be continuously monitored and can be ruined by the slightest lapse in attention. With a few tricks, however, you can greatly simplify the process without sacrificing taste. And in addition, we will cover how to preserve the leftovers to keep in case of unexpected guests, or for a special occasion (we all know the panic of one’s mother in law inviting herself over for lunch when you have nothing in the house).
Fret not; it can be done! The trick is to separate it into two steps: one day for cooking meat, allow it to cool overnight, and then the next day it can be cut easily and with more precision.
The choice of meat will make or break your dish. I would avoid buying very fine cuts that are too thin; the braising process, which cooks the meat very thoroughly, tends to cause these to become stringy, so cuts which contain cartilage are preferred. Instead, I recommend cuts like the “brione”, also called “polpa di shoulder” or “gamboncello”, but you can also use the famous “priest’s hat” (but keep in mind that the high quality is matched by high price).
No less important is your selection of wine in which to marinade it. Tradition calls for a very structured wine, preferably Barolo, Barbera, or Bonarda. They are full-bodied wines and, if a strong taste of wine isn’t to your taste, you can simply reduce the marinating time.
● 900 g of beef brione (beef brisket or chuck)
● A clove of garlic
● Three small onions
● Two stalks of celery
● Two carrots
● A bottle of red wine
● 30 g of butter
● Two spoonfuls of EVO oil
● Two cloves
● Half cinnamon stick
Do you have everything? Then we can proceed with the preparation.
If you have chosen the brione (which is excellent and cheap, but it is a bit “jagged,” almost as if it had been handled by Edward Scissorhands), you will need to tie it to keep it in shape. Most butchers will be happy to assist with this.
At this point, take a pointed knife and score two sharp cross-cuts across the width of the meat; aggressive as it may seem, these lines will be used to embed the meat with garlic. And what delectable garlic it shall be! Peel the clove and cut it into thin strips and insert them deep into the cross cuts.
Once the meat has been sorted, it’s on to the vegetables: after cleaning them, roughly chop them, taking care that the pieces are not too small. Place your meat, chopped vegetables, cloves and cinnamon in a large bowl and pour the bottle of wine over it.
Now comes the waiting.
Let it sit and marinate for a couple of hours, then remove the meat from the marinade and let it drain. Brown it well in a non-stick saucepan with pre-warmed butter and oil. This step is crucial for the success of the dish: you must coax the meat into sealing all of its tasty juices inside. Turn it often over a high flame, and pay attention to the color: you will know it’s done when the meat is uniformly dark.
Place your meat in a pressure cooker, pour in the seasoning, and add the marinade, spices, salt, and pepper (if you prefer a low-sodium alternative, you can substitute vegetable stock for the salt.).
Return it to the heat, seal it tightly and set it to cook for half an hour. When it whistles its completion, release the pressure, turn the meat over and cook for another thirty minutes; the meat must be nice and tender.
Remove the meat and place it in a deep dish. When it has cooled a little, wrap everything well with the plastic wrap so that it does not dry out, and set it in the refrigerator to chill. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves and puree the vegetables with a hand blender.
When the meat is very cold (a night of rest in the fridge would be ideal), use a very sharp knife to cut it into thin slices, half a centimeter at most.
Arrange the slices in a baking dish or in an aluminum pan with a cover (depending on whether it’s destined for the dinner table, or freezer) and cover with the heated sauce. Make sure to cover it well!
If you plan to serve it directly, touch it up it in the oven at 200° C for half an hour, covered in aluminum foil.
If, on the other hand, you plan to eat it later, let it cool in an open pan, then cover it and let it set in the fridge; move it to the freezer if you need to preserve it for longer. For storage times, consult your fridge instructions, but no more than a couple of months. It can be heated directly without thawing, it will simply take a little more time.
Enjoy your meal, and see you soon!
Buon appetito, e alla prossima.