Manzo in umido (Italian braised beef)

by Ray McVinnie | Cuisine issue #117
Serves: 6Cheaper cuts of meat such as brisket may take a while to cook but they have a delicious, robust beef flavour not found in quick-cooking, expensive cuts.

Here the brisket is oven-cooked slowly on a base of vegetables, pancetta (or bacon if you can’t get pancetta) and the addition of anchovies, which do not taste fishy, but dissolve into a salty savoury flavouring. Once cooked the meat is then sliced and put back into the sauce. I recently taught this dish at a day-long, “hands on” private cooking class and we served it with spaghetti as part of a multi-course lunch. It was a big hit.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1kg piece boned beef brisket, well trimmed of fat and sinew
2 onions, chopped
1 leek (white part only), sliced
100g pancetta, diced
5 anchovy fillets, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
1/2 cup black olives
1 tablespoon very finely chopped rosemary
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
200ml red wine
3 tablespoons tomato paste
600ml well-flavoured beef stock
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
500g Italian dried spaghetti, cooked al dente in plenty of well-salted water and well drained

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat the oil in a large, deep heatproof casserole and brown the brisket all over. Remove and reserve.

Add the onions, leek, pancetta, anchovies, carrots, olives, rosemary, bay leaf and pepper to the pan and fry briskly until everything is well browned.

Add the wine and let it bubble for 20 seconds then add the tomato paste, stock and vinegar.

Mix to dissolve the tomato paste then place the brisket on top, cover and place in the oven for 2-2@1/2 hours until the meat is tender. It should still be a little chewy.

Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and carefully lift the brisket out of the sauce, place on a board and slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Place the sliced meat on the hot spaghetti in a large wide bowl and pour the sauce over the top. Mix carefully and serve.

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