Danny came home the other day with two kilos of beef blade roasts that I think he may have thought were awesomely huge steaks. I took it as a hint that we hadn't had a serious meat meal in a while and was glad that it was a drizzly, gray day outside and I could have the oven on for about five hours to cook the monstrosities.
I don't cook red meat that often, but when I do, I like to keep is as simple as possible and braising is my cooking method of choice. It's so rewarding to throw a bunch of ingredients together in my cheery red Le Crueset, place it in the oven and forget about it for about four hours, only to come back and discover there's an elegant dinner ready.
This is the first time I have tried to write out a recipe as a braise is something I just tend to feel, rather than measure. I usually throw in whatever vegetables I find in the fridge, a lonely carrot, tired celery, and a wrinkled old turnip. Don't worry if you don't have a bottle of wine, either; although it adds a nice complexity, beef or vegetable stock will do just fine. One last thing, don't feel limited to parsley, as there are plenty of other herbs that would fit the bill. Parsley was just something I had to use up, but thyme, oregano, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary or sage would also be delicious. (if you are changing up the herbs, use only about 2 or 3 sprigs -even less for sage and rosemary-as they are much more potent than the humble parsley.)
Red Wine Braised Beef with Root Vegetables and Parsley
2lb blade roast, whole
1 onion, chopped roughly
4 cups root vegetables, peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch cubes, I used turnip, parsnip, carrot, potato, and celery.
4 garlic cloves
3 Tablespoons olive oil
500 ml red wine
Small bunch of Italian parsley, tied with kitchen twine
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes
optional: sauted mushroom of choice
Place blade roast in airtight container. Thinly slice two of the garlic cloves, sprinkle on top and pour 1 cup of wine over. Crack some fresh pepper on it and close lid. Cover and marinade at least four hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 275F.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven or heavy oven-proof pot. Add onions and sauté until lightly colored while you chop the remaining 2 cloves of garlic; add garlic and sauté and other minute. Add the rest of the vegetables and seat for about five minutes on medium heat. Remove from pot and reserve in a bowl.
Remove beef from fridge and drain off marinade; do not throw out but reserve for later use.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pot until very hot. Add meat to the pot and sear on both sides and edges until well colored. Add sautéed vegetables to the pot as well as reserved marinade, remaining 1 cup of wine, ½ teaspoon ground pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and bunch of parsley. Add enough filtered water to cover everything and bring to a simmer on the stove top.
Cover and place in oven. Braise for about two hours and then check tenderness of vegetables. If soft, remove and reserve. Beef will be hard and there will be lots of liquid. Braise another two hours or so until beef is fork tender. Remove lid for the final half hour of roasting.
Remove pot from oven and strain off liquid. In another pot or sauce pan, simmer juices until reduced to about ¼ the liquid. Sauce should be dark and the consistency of heavy cream. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. With sauce on a low simmer, swirl cold butter into it until melted and sauce takes on a nice sheen. Return vegetables and meat to sauce. Meat will fall apart on its own as you stir the dish together.
Serve hot with fresh parsley and a nice glass of red!