Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Slow-cooked Beef in Red Wine

Those in warmer climes will probably overlook this recipe but for those of us experiencing winter this should be pleasant way to snub the cold weather. There's nothing overly taxing in this recipe, if fact it's just left in the oven to it's own devices most of the time, save for a stir or two. The result is quite heavenly, meat that just melts at a forks touch and smothered in an intense sauce that only time can create and best of all, there's enough wine left to enjoy a glass (or two) with your meal! If that doesn't warm you up, I don't know what will.


Slow-cooked Beef in Red Wine

1kg gravy beef
1 onion, sliced finely
2 sticks of celery, stalks and leaves, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
375ml good red wine (if you aren't willing to drink it, then don't use it in your food!)
1 cup peas
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, leaves roughly chopped

First step is to prepare the gravy beef. Remove any sinew and excess fat, then cut into large chunks.
Dust these pieces very lightly in plain flour while you heat up a heavy based pan with some oil and a little butter.

Brown the pieces, a few at a time so you don't drop the pan's temperature and end up stewing the beef rather than browning. Once browned, remove to a plate and continue cooking the remaining pieces. You want the beef to have a lovely crusty brown skin. I haven't seasoned the beef at this stage as I want to keep the juices inside.

When all the meat is cooked then add the onions, carrot, garlic and celery to the pan and sauté over a gentle heat - use a spatula to loosen any particles left by the meat, these are full of flavour. This should take around 10 minutes, you don't want this mixture to get too much colour, take it slow and let the vegetables sweat and absorb all those pan flavours. Season with a little salt and pepper at this stage.

Add the tomato paste and mix it through - cook this for a few minutes to rid it of that harsh raw taste. By cooking it down a little you intensify it's flavour. Add all the meat to the pan and any juices that have been released - stir it thoroughly through the vegetable mix. Increase the heat and then pour in the red wine - depending on the size of the pan used, it should cover the meat, if you find it doesn't add a little beef/vegetable stock.

Simmer this on a high heat for 5 minutes before placing it, covered in a preheated 180°C oven. Let this cook for an hour undisturbed.

After an hour, remove the lid, stir in the peas and return to the oven for another hour, checking after 30 minutes. You should find that with the lid off the liquid starts to evaporate and the sauce thickens - if it's getting too thick then add a little beef/vegetable stock and turn down the oven to 160°C.

Roughly speaking total oven time of 2 to 3 hours should be enough - but you'll need to be the judge of when the meat has reached that lovely spongy consistency. Taste it again for seasoning and adjust if necessary and then in the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in some freshly sliced parsley - reserve some to garnish the final dish, this just gives you two levels of parsley flavour.

To serve:
Mashed potatoes would be a wonderful match but for this dish I've used grilled polenta instead. It's simple to do - once you've made the polenta, pour it into a lined deep-sided rectangular tray, smooth out the top and let it set. When it's firm, give it 15 - 30 minutes, lift it from the tray using the paper. You can now cut the polenta into whatever shape you like - I've used scone cutters to cut out rounds.

Using a fry-pan (or grill pan if you prefer), cook the shapes until they crisp up on both sides and the polenta has warmed through. Place them on a plate and top with the beef, sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.


Best eaten in front of a roaring fire while sipping on a glass of red!

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  1. that meat looks like it would just melt in the mouth! i don't usually like polenta because i find it a bit bland, but as a small bite sized piece with all that rich sauce i think it would work well. next time i'm in melbourne i'll be banging down your door!

  2. This is my first visit to your blog - YUM. I will be back to try some of your recipes on my friends. I love your photography - mine is very amateurish!

  3. Hi Anna and thanks! Polenta can be bland but I use a lot of parmesan to lift it up and make it nice and cheesy. I'll set a place at the table ;)

    Hi Mal and thank you! Hope to see you around again! Do let me know if you try out any of the recipes.

  4. This really looks fantastic & think you have inspired me to try & make some grilled polenta too, so far I have only made the sloppy kind

  5. Hi Ange - grilling does give polenta new life, too much polenta as a child made me sick of it so I've looked at other things to do with it.

  6. I made this for my girlfriend this week and it went down a storm, she was so impressed she has volunteered me to cook something else tonight, thanks a lot ;) I was suprised how thick the sauce gets without using cornflour :)

  7. Hi Simon - Happy to hear that this dish proved so popular for you. She's very lucky to have someone cooking for her - you do deserve a night off after cooking though ;)

  8. Hi there. I just found your blog recently and I've been back almost everyday since. I definitely want to make this dish, but I was curious what gravy beef meant. Thanks!

  9. Thanks Max and welcome, glad to know you've been enjoying the blog. Gravy beef refers to a cut of meat, I'm not sure what country you are from so it may go under a different name, but it refers to meat taken from the shin. Hope that helps you.


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