This dish comes from the Roman ghetto. ‘Stracotto’ literary means ‘cooked over and over’. As a matter of fact the braised beef is cooked on a very low heat for several hours. This cooking process allows the beef to become tender and the sauce to build a full flavour. It is a classic dish for Shabbat, especially in the winter months, suitable both for Friday night dinner and easy to warm up on a hot plate for Shabbat lunch. The ingredients are few and simple and there is no need to add any herb or spice. The beef, tomato and wine incorporate the essence of Italian cooking. It is one of my favorite dishes and one that adults and children alike usually love.
Serves: 4-6 people (as a main course)
Time: 3 ½ - 4 hours
- Approx. 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 1 kg cubed chuck beef
- Approx. 200 ml of red wine
- 700 ml passata/strained crushed tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy base saucepan and add the onion with a little salt and pepper. Leave the onion to cook over a medium flame for a few minutes and then add the beef chunks and stir well. After a few minutes the beef will start to sweat. Leave it to cook in its liquid, uncovered and over a medium flame until the water partially evaporates. This may take about half an hour.
- Add the wine, stir well and leave to cook for a few minutes, and then add the tomato passata. Stir well, cover and as soon at it starts boiling again, reduce the flame to very low (use a heat diffuser if you have one). Leave the beef to simmer for at least 2 & ½-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
- In the course of cooking, about 1 ½ - 2 hours after you added the tomato and the wine, the consistency of the tomato sauce will change slightly, becoming more dense. This is a sign you are moving in the right direction and that the meat is almost cooked. Feel the beef chunks with a fork. The beef is ready when it feels tender and easy to break.
- Turn the heat off and serve hot with some side vegetables or rice. The stracotto tastes even better the day after and it keeps very well for several days.
Born and bred in Rome, Silvia Nacamulli is an Italian-Jewish cookery expert living in London. She runs La Cucina di Silvia - Cooking for the Soul, where she teaches at cookery schools as well as privately. She caters Italian food for both private and corporate events, and runs culinary holidays in Italy. She also lectures on the history of Italian Jewish cuisine and writes a regular column in the Jewish Chronicle. She is currently writing her first book. More from Nacaulli here www.facebook.com/CookingForTheSoul.
Join Silvia Nacamulli in Umbria, Italy for her cookery course on 11-16 October 2015. For more info and booking email@example.com or visit www.cookingforthesoul.com
© Silvia Nacamulli 2015