This isn’t a Summery dish… more a Fall/Winter. However once in a while I crave something hearty even on a hot summer evening. This meal takes all day to make but it is super easy so don’t be intimidated. It literally cooks itself once you add everything to to the pot per the instructions. Then when its done you make the gnocchi and grate some cheese. YAY!
NOTE: This is also great served over creamy basil parmesan polenta cooked in chicken stock with lots of buttter and then topped with even more parmesan. Or you could serve over spaghetti – in that case I would serve with Asiago and chop some Kalamata olives into the sauce and add some anchovy paste as well.
Italian Braised Beef:
- 1 large or 2 small sweet onions diced (Walla Walla or Vidalia but cooking onions are fine too)
- 2-4 carrots diced (depending on size)
- 2-4 stalks celery diced (depending on size)
- 4-6 garlic cloves finely minced
- Italian parsley finely chopped (Optional: I didn’t have any this time and it was fine)
- Fresh basil (Optional: I didn’t have any this time and it was fine)
- Olive oil (enough to coat pan + more for drizzling in the final stew)
- Sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped fine, 2 if whole, 4-8 if strips (Optional: I have made it without before too, still good)
- 2-3 bay leaves
- Chili flakes to taste
- Salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Dried oregano and basil (to taste aka use a little or a lot)
- Red pepper jelly (a few spoons – basically to mellow acidity of tomatoes and add a bit of zing!)
- Balsamic glaze (a few drizzles)
- Red wine (at least 1 1/2 cups but 2 or 3 or 4 is even better haha!)
- Beef broth (one carton)
- Tomato paste (small can)
- 1-3 fresh tomatoes diced (depends on how many you feel like doing – just makes more saucey)
- A large hunk of beef, buffalo or bison roast dusted with a little flour (or stewing meat chunks work fine)
Start with the foundation veggies and seasonings in a pan with olive oil. Medium heat. Onions first for a bit, then carrots and celery. Throw in your herbs, parsley and salt and pepper. With seasonings always start with less and once the stew has cooked for a couple hours and you know the meat is fully cooked you can taste test the sauce to see if you want to add anything extra to it. But use your common sense and intuition. That is basically how I do it! Looks like a good amount of oregano?! It probably is! Let it all get sauteed for a while then make room in the middle of the pan, add more oil and gently put in your floured hunk o’ meat. Sear the meat til browned on all sides.
Then add all the liquids (stock, wine, pepper jelly, balsamic etc.)
Simmer with a lid in for a very long time on medium low with a lid on. For hours and hours. So be prepared to be at home during this process. Probably 4-6 hours. I can’t recall as it was a few weeks ago. Stir once in a while to prevent the bottom from sticking and burning. If in doubt turn the heat down a bit. Once the meat is starting to get tender you can start to pull it apart with a wooden or metal spoon. Basically you know it is done when the meat falls apart and the sauce is thick and stew-like.
Boil gnocchi is salted water per package. About 60-90 seconds I recall. Have a pan preheated and toss in a bunch of butter. Toss in your drained gnocchi and swirl around to prevent sticking. Cook those little bundles of potatoey love until they get golden brown buttery bits on the edges.
- Parmesan Cheese
Serve in bowls: gnocchi, then the braised beef to the side and sort of on top, top with as much cheese as you like. I use a lot and keep adding more and more as I go on.
You can also add some more red pepper flakes on top. If you are feeling fancy add some fresh chopped basil too!
Make sure to have an extra bottle of red wine on hand to drink while you eat the stew. Mmmmmmmmm