Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Italian Braised Beef

Nothing beats a delicious braise on a cold, rainy day.  And, though you might be tempted by the relative ease of a Crock Pot, nothing beats the performance of enameled cast iron.  Yes, there are often more steps involved and you can’t simply dump your ingredients and hit the ‘on’ button, but the exchange in flavor development is immeasurable.  Now, lest I be caught out on this one, I am sure that at some point, I’ll post a Crock Pot recipe.  But not today.  Vive Le Creuset!

This recipe is an adaptation of Giada’s Short Ribs with Tagliatelle.  Though I do enjoy short ribs, they can be rather fatty and I can’t say I relish getting a mouthful of fat goobers when I’m expecting a bite of meat.  Chuck offers nice flavor and is much leaner.  I’ve also adjusted the braising liquid to my taste–that is, more wine, less beef broth.  Finally I really prefer to braise in the oven versus on the stove top.  Not only does it keep my stove top clear for the cooking of other dishes, but the heat is much more even and consistent.

If you happen to be watching your waistline, definitely add this recipe to your line-up.  Forget about low-cal meals with lackluster flavor; though wonderfully rich and satisfying, this dish clocks in at a modest 525 calories when served with 1 cup of pasta.

Italian Braised Beef
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta
1 pound chuck roast, cut into 1.5″ cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup flour
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
½ cup fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth (perhaps more)
1 cup red wine
Barilla Plus pasta, for serving

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Rinse and thoroughly pat dry your beef cubes.  Season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large enameled cast iron pot (e.g. French oven, Dutch oven, braiser) or oven-safe soup pot with a lid over medium heat.  Add your pancetta and cook until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Add your beef pieces one at a time to the pot and brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes total.

While the meat is cooking, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely minced.  (If you don’t have a food processor, you can mince these vegetables by hand.)  Add the tomatoes (undrained) and tomato paste and pulse a few more times.

Once the beef is browned, carefully add your vegetable mixture from the food processor to the pot.  Return the pancetta to the pot along with the herbs, bay leaf, beef broth, and red wine.  Stir well and as you do so, scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release those flavorful browned bits (called ‘fond’).  Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and then pop in the oven.

Braise in the oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring every hour or so.  Add a bit more beef broth or water to the pot, if needed.  Once your meat is falling apart, you can either serve the braise with the large chunks of beef or shred it with two forks.  Sprinkle in ½ teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Taste and further adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Nutrition Information per serving (1/4 recipe): 320 calories, 11 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 15 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 28 g protein

Served with 1 cup of cooked Barilla Plus pasta: 525 calories, 13.5 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 53 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 38 g protein

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One thought on “Italian Braised Beef

  1. You must be awfully busy, but I just wanted you to know that you write thoughful and very helpful posts.

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