Braised beef in red wine

So, you all had a little sneak peak at dinner tonight, a topside of beef sitting, marinating, in a bottle of red wine. If you didn’t, here it is again…..


This produced one of the most flavoursome dishes I have ever made. Cooked at a low heat for 4 hours, the beef fell apart and melted in the mouth. The combo of different flavours as well; bay leaf, rosemary, fennel, tomato and of course wine was just out of this world. This is not a dish I would cook every day but I would thoroughly recommend putting this one together if you have people coming round! You will grin with pride as they all tuck in, using bread to mop up every last bit of sauce.

First of all, we are at Emily’s family home in Northern Ireland and we have 5 other people to feed! We are back to meet Emily’s gorgeous new niece Arya, a family occasion that called for good food. To begin with, something so simple and completely stress free, an antipasti platter. A selection of cured meats; prosciutto, bresaola & salamis served with olives, sweet peppers, and another Mediterranean mix, crusty bread and red wine, is there a better way to get a lovely family feast started?


So, you dice 1 large white onion, 3 large carrots, 3 sticks of celery and 2 cloves of garlic. Season the beef joint well with salt, pepper and fennel seeds and place in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, some rosemary sprigs and several bay leaves and then pour the complete bottle of wine over everything. Leave to marinate for an hour or so.

Once well marinated, take the beef out and fry in some olive oil until brown all over. Set to the side and then add your vegetables. Return the beef to the pan and add the wine, brining to the boil for around 10/15 minutes. Add 3 tbsps of tomato puree with 6 tbsps of water and mix to get a runny sauce and add to the sauce along with 1 tbsp of sugar. Reduce the heat to a light simmer and leave for 3 hours, turning the beef around from time to time until the sauce has reduced and the beef is very tender. At this stage, the smell coming off this was filling the house…


Once cooked, divide amongst your guests and I felt no need to decorate this dish with a side dish, just some crunchy bread to soak up this delicious red wine sauce. The beef melted in the mouth and the sauce was just bursting with flavour. I will definitely be getting my friends and family round to my house to make this again soon. For later on tonight, Emily is making a blueberry and pear crumble. She has already made the crumble mix and it promises to be delicious. Please check out her blog at Emily Clarke Food for the result and for other delicious recipes, she is terrific! I will of course report back to you with the verdict tomorrow!

A big thank you once again to Genaro Contaldo for bringing this dish into my life. I hope you try this; it is very simple, the ingredients do all the work for you and you will be mega proud of watching your loved ones mopping up their plates.


Happy eating to everyone


Slow cooking after slow travel!

No post yesterday, but for a very good reason. We were hit with crazy snow and blizzards, so our ‘quick’ flight over to Belfast was delayed by over 2 hours. Combine that with waiting in the freezing cold, with the wind battering our faces, waiting for a taxi for 30 minutes, there was only time for a nice glass of wine then off to bed.

Yesterday I tried baking Panforte di Siena. This is similar to a fruit cake and, although it is often made during the festive period, is most commonly associated with the famous Palio di Siena – a bareback horse race between the numerous contrade (wards) of the city. This is an amazing spectacle that I will hopefully have the honour of witnessing first hand.
Panforte is delicious, a nice combo of fruit, sweetness and a little bit of spice. I know that Italians do not like venturing too far away from traditional recipes, but I used what I had. I replaced orange zest with lemon zest, candied peel with dried cherries and made without any nuts. I will be trying the 100% authentic recipe soon, but this creation was very tasty indeed. I particularly enjoyed the kick of lemon!


I am very excited for tonight. Emily and I are cooking dinner for Emily’s family. I just love cooking for a big crowd, especially family. We are arranging an antipasti platter for starters, a mixture of cured meats and preserved vegetables. For main course I am cooking perhaps the recipe most deeply ingrained in my memory: braised beef in red wine. This is a Genaro Contaldo recipe that I seen during his Two Greedy Italians programme with Antonio Carluccio. It is a topside of beef cooked in a bottle of red wine over several hours with vegetables and herbs. When watching the programme, I can remember my mouth just filling with saliva and I cannot wait to give it a go. As I write, it is soaking in wine with rosemary, bay leaves, onion, garlic, carrots, celery a bottle of vino rosso. Here is a picture for now and make sure you pop back later tonight to see the result!

Happy eating folks and watch this space……