Saturday, November 17, 2007

Occasional recipes: Italian stew

This week's recipe comes from Round & About and is Lyn D's recipe of the month. No idea who Lyn D is but she knows her stuff. It costs a bit, as it requires steak and at least two bottles of red - one to cook it with and one to drink with it. It's also very rich.
  • 3-t tbsp olive oil
  • 1 kilo braising or stewing steak cut into chunks
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 350 ml tinned tomatoes
  • fresh sage and parsley
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 50g fat from Parma ham, diced
  • 350g wild or chestnut mushrooms, chopped
  • more sage and parsley, chopped
  • optional: 250g peeled chestnuts
Heat olive oil. [Always one of my favourite stages of any meal. Warmed up olive oil smells so good and promises so much.] Add the meat in batches to seal and brown, then salt, pepper and tomatoe puree.

Cover the meat with red wine and boil on maximum heat until the meat is almost dry. Repeat at least once. [Lyn D suggests three or four times in total. After doing it twice you notice you're 2/3rds of the way through the bottle and your budget might not allow more. I did this stage the night before anyway, so at this point covered the meat with the remainder of the wine and let it marinade for 24 hours. By this point the kitchen smells fantastic and, if you're wearing something absorbent like a fleece, so do you.]

Re-cover the meat with more wine, add tomatoes, sage, parsley and garlic. Put lid on and simmer, or put in the oven at 160C (gas mark 3), for 1.5 hours.

Saute the ham fat to render it down, add the peeled chestnuts if using and soften them gently. Then add the chopped mushrooms and saute for a couple of minutes. [I completely omitted this stage; the bit about the ham fat because it just didn't sound necessary, the chestnuts because we had already decided not to and the mushrooms because I forgot.]

Add them to the meat with the chopped fresh sage and parsley. Stir well and serve with creamy mash or polenta. [The least successful part of the meal. We went with the polenta. Should have gone with the mash - more absorbent for all the very rich and delicious juices.]

And if you then go and drink a bottle of wine with it, prepare to feel really quite squiffy. I had assumed all the alcohol of the first bottle would have evaporated during the cooking. I think I was wrong.

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