Sunday, November 30, 2014

Braised Beef Pappardelle

Happy Monday friends!  I hope everyone had a nice long weekend and had the opportunity to indulge in some delicious food.  I had a great time in Florida, although it was quite colder than I was expecting. Relaxing and spending time with family was so much fun, and returning home to two gorgeous trees just waiting to be decorated was the icing on the cake. 

I'm in full wintry-holiday spirit, and even after all of the food I ate last week, i've got decadent, rich, comfort food on the brain.  Decadent and rich doesn't even begin to describe the magic that is this braised beef pappardelle. This dish will positively warm you from the inside out.  Inspired by my favorite dish at a long-gone Wilmington restaurant, the Kitchen, this pappardelle is firing on all cylinders.  The beef is beyond tender, the sauce thick and velvety, and the flavors are that special kind of savory that you can't quite put your finger on.  I finally mastered the sauce after adding a parmesans rind, bunches of fresh herbs, and just a touch of tangy tomato paste. 

Don't be intimidated by the lengthy instructions.  Most of the cooking time (about 4 hours total) is hands-off.  The key is to slowly braise the beef in the oven until it practically falls apart when you look at it. 

* 2 lb. beef stew meat
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 4 tbsp. butter, divided
* 2 onions, sliced
* 4 carrots, cut into chunks
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 tbsp. tomato paste
* 4 tbsp. flour, divided
* 1 c. red wine (I used cabernet)
* 32 oz. beef stock
* 1 parmesan rind
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 bunch of herbs (I used 2 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs thyme)
* salt, pepper
*1 lb. pappardelle pasta

Preheat the oven to 325.  In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium high heat.  Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper.  Working in batches, brown the meat on all side, being careful not to overcrowd the pan (or the meat will steam instead of brown).  Remove browned meat to a plate and set aside. 

Add onions and carrots to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until they just start to brown.  Add garlic to the pan and sauté until fragrant; 1 minute or so.  Add 1 tbsp. flour and tomato paste to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the wine to the pan and cook until thickened, 2 minutes or so.  Add beef stock, parmesan rind, bay leaf, and herbs, and cover with a tight fitting lid.  Transfer to the oven and cook for 3 to 3.5 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. Leave the remaining butter out so it can come to room temperature while the beef is braising. 

Remove the herbs from the pot.  The next step is to thicken the sauce.  Prepare a beurre manie - this is a mixture of equal parts butter and flour, used to thicken sauces, by combining 3 tbsp. flour and 3 tbsp. room temperature butter in a bowl.  Use a fork to mash the butter and flour together, ensuring they're totally incorporated. Use a strainer (I used a hand spider, but a colander works just as well) to drain the sauce from the solids (all of the solids will be added back to the pot - straining them out just makes it easier to create a thick, smooth sauce).  Heat the sauce over medium high heat, and whisk in the beurre manie (this makes a thick, rich sauce; for a thinner consistency, start with half the beurre manie).  Continue to whisk until smooth and the sauce has thickened.  Return the meat to the sauce and reduce heat to low until ready to serve. 

Prepare pasta according to package directions.  Stir cooked pasta into the sauce and serve.  Enjoy! 

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