The last trip to Italy was filled with lots of meaty and wintery dishes such as a great Brasato (braised beef) that I had in Firenze, which inspired me to try to cook this myself. After a first mediocre result, the second one turned out to be perfect. The slow cooking method makes the meat become extremely tender. Here is the recipe I used:
Brasato – serves 4
1 kg boneless shoulder of beef, trimmed of fat
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped in half
2 garlic cloves, peeled
8 – 10 cherry tomatoes, on the vine
3 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 leek, chopped in two
1/2 small celeriac
3 sprigs of thyme
3 small carrots, peeled
500 ml good quality red wine
250 ml of water
1 tbsp tomato paste (purée)
1 bay leaf
2 tsp of corn starch mixed with a bit of red wine or sauce
Heat the olive oil in a stockpot on a good heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add the meat to the oil, browning it on all sides. Add the vegetables and herbs and continue cooking until the vegetables are lightly golden. Add the wine together with the water and the tomato paste. Lower the heat to a minimum and cook, covered, for at least 3 hours, turning it over a couple of times. If you keep it nicely covered all the time, there should be a lot of sauce. If you have less than approximately 500 ml, add a little bit of water. I cooked the meat on very low fire for almost 4 hours including the time it spent in the oven at 60 degrees celsius, covered with tinfoil, while I was making the sauce.
For the sauce, pass the vegetables through a food disk if you have got one. We use a large sieve with a fine mesh to do that. Add the fine vegetable purée to the sauce and add the corn starch slurry. Boil until the sauce thickened and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Cut the meat into thick slices. Ours was too tender to cut so we just pulled it apart. Spoon the sauce over it. We had mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts with bacon as siders. Also polenta will work well! If you prefer your meat crispy on the outside, simply place it under the broiler for max. 5 minutes.
Sorry for the not so great pictures but I couldn’t keep my fingers of the food any longer so just took two very casual shots.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Twelve – A Tuscan Cook Book by Tessa Kiros
Recommended music while cooking this: Jack White – Blunderbuss