Polpo’s Braised Beef

Ok, the recipe is for braised ox cheek. Which is a much undervalued cut. It’s cheap and it cooks down beautifully in this recipe. Unfortunately my usual source had sold out, so I panicked and bought braising steak and it worked perfectly

It’s a recipe that needs a bit of forward planning (and marinading) hooray!

Day One: Friday Night

Take a large container – this plastic box is perfect. If I was using ox cheek you might need to trim slightly. But the beef goes in along with roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery. Add to that a head of garlic, bay, juniper and rosemary. It says a glass of wine but I go a bit over this. Cover and pop in the fridge – your work here is done for the day.

Day Two: Saturday afternoon

As a braised dish this needs to sit and cook for some time, so it’s a Saturday afternoon start. Don’t skimp on time or the meat won’t become tender.

The meat is removed from the box and the liquid, vegetables etc are poured into a pan and put on to boil. A tin of tomatoes, stock and some seasoning are added and you leave it to cook, covered, for an hour.

After an hour, take the stock off the heat to cook while you toss the meat in some seasoned flour. Strain the stock of all the vegetables etc and ensure it is to hand.

Heat some oil in a casserole and add the meat, browning on all sides. When done, add a glass of wine to the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan for all the stuck-on bits.

Add the stock and cover on a medium heat to start. The recipe puts the casserole in the oven at this stage, but I left on the hob so I could keep an eye on it!

Turn the temperate down on the pan and leave to cook for two hours. Check on it occasionally to ensure it’s not sticking/burning.

As the two hours come up, check on the pan again. It needs another half an hour, but now is the time to pop some halved cherry tomatoes with a light drizzle of oil and some salt in the oven.

How’s the time to start getting everything ready. I like to serve this with some big pasta, so get a pan of water on to boil and start to cook your pasta.

At the same time halve a handful of green olives ready to be thrown in at the end.

When your pasta is cooked and your tomatoes are sweetly charred, it’s time to put it all together. There’s likely to be more sauce than you need, so drain your pasta (reserving some of the cooking water) in case the now thick sauce needs slightly loosening.

Add the pasta back into its pan and stir in the tomatoes and olives. Serve with a nice glass of wine!

Day three: Sunday Avanzi

Like all slow cooked meat, this is really lovely the day after. The same dinner two days in a row, but when it’s this good, who’s complaining!

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