March beef with capers
I have to give you this recipe while it is still March! It is inspired by a recipe in this month's La Cucina Italiana and for those of you who are in Italy and have the magazine it's the one for brioni di manzo brasati. First of all, what's a briono of beef? My butcher didn't know [again] but I showed him the recipe and, after consulting the internet - he is getting quite geeky! - he decided it must be what is known down here as the ala di tenero or cappello del prete ["priest's hat", because of its shape] cut. He suggested I let him slice the beef as then I could cook it for less time and that was fine with me as carving is not my forte. [Many Italian women have one of those slicing machines that cuts the meat extra thinly.] Another change to the recipe that I decided upon as soon as I saw it was that there would be no anchovy fillets in my version, as I am allergic to any kind of fish. I also used red wine instead of white as that is what I had and the zucchini are my addition, as I had some to use up. I added the herbs for the hell of it. OK, here we go:
4 tablesp olive oil
1 kg ala di tenero of beef, sliced fairly thickly across
3 stalks celery, sliced [if you can get the small, Sicilian kind, all the better.]
1 medium white onion, sliced into rings
2 zucchini, sliced
handful capers preserved in salt, rinsed
500 gr passata [the smooth kind]
c. 300 ml red wine
1 vegetable stock cube
sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a fairly deep, wide pan and brown the beef on all sides. Chuck in the vegetables and continue to cook for about 10 mins. Add the capers, stock cube and wine. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, then add the passata and the rosemary and thyme. Season to taste, put the lid on and simmer for about 1.5 hours, turning the meat once.
I don't think this dish needs any accompaniment other than a salad of tender spring leaves.