Brasato alla genovese (Genovese braised beef )

I made this dish for this year’s New Year’s Day open house. It worked great as a dish for lots of people.

This beef preparation hails from the Campania region of Italy, where Naples is the capital city. As I read more about it, I found all types of variations. What was consistent was the use of onions and the fact that no one really knows were the name “genovese” came from. Genovese, of course, refers to the Italian city of Genoa and it’s suspected that seafaring traders frequently visited Naples. But the mystery is that this dish and many others with Genovese in the name do not appear in the cuisine of Genoa.

You can prepare this a day ahead and refrigerate. Simply reheat in the oven at 350 degrees until the meat is hot. Slice, plate and top with the sauce.

You can also serve the meat as a “secondo” with a green vegetable and serve the sauce with pasta as a “primo”. You can leave the sauce in its cooked form or puree it. Add a little stock if the sauce is too dense.

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Brasato alla genovese (Genovese braised beef )


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 lbs braising beef (I recommend shoulder clod)
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 thick (1/2″) slice pancetta
  • 1 thick (1/2″) slice Prosciutto
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium/large yellow onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1/2 bottle dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 quarts beef or chicken broth, heated (preferably home made)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Tie the beef with butcher’s twine to form a uniform log (see diagram). Alternatively, ask your butcher to do this.
  3. Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute for about 15 minutes. 
  4. Cut the pancetta into 1-inch long matchsticks. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper arranging so the sticks don’t touch each other. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 1 hour.
  5. Once the pancetta is frozen solid, using a sharp knife, slice holes all over the tied beef. Insert the pancetta stickes into the holes. This will provide extra flavor to the beef.
  6. Coat a dutch oven with olive oil over medium heat. Season the tied beef with salt and pepper. Brown all sides of the beef rotating it every 5 minutes or so.  Remove the beef to a platter where its juices will collect.
  7. Add more olive oil to the dutch oven if needed to coat the bottom. Add the onions, carrots, celery, Prosciutto and any remaining pancetta. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir all the ingredients. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and let the vegetables sweat for 10 minutes or so. Remove the lid occasionally and stir.
  8. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the liquid and squeeze the water out of them into the soaking bowl. Chop the porcini mushrooms. Strain the mushroom soaking with a stainer lined with paper towels.
  9. Once the vegetables are soft, add the chopped porcini mushrooms, the soaking liquid and the chopped parsley. Stir into the mixture.
  10. Return the roast and the collected juices to the pot on top of the vegetables. Still while over medium-low heat, add the red wine and cook uncovered until the vegetables and meats are syrupy.
  11. Add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste to the vegetables and add the hot broth till it’s about half way up the roast.
  12. Place in the oven, covered, for 2-3, hours removing to uncover and rotate the beef every half hour or so. Cook until the meat is falling apart.
  13. Remove from the oven and place the meat on a cutting board. Snip off the twine and then slice the beef and place on a serving plate. Spoon the sauce over the beef and serve.

Notes

Special equipment:

  • Dutch oven large enough to hold the roast
  • Sheet pan with parchment paper
  • Kitchen twine

Caution:

  • The pancetta and Prosciutto in the broth will add a lot of salt to this dish, so go easy on added salt.
  • Use a little salt to season the beef before browning and to help sweat the vegetables.

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