The most special recipes are those that are passed down from generation to generation, often without a written recipe. I must admit when I hear about a special family recipe if the cook is willing to share I am thrilled.
One day while perusing the home feed on Facebook I saw a picture of my stepmother and my niece at the stove making a “special brown sauce”. Since Italians typically eat fish on Christmas, I was intrigued and asked what this sauce was. Evelyn told me that she had been given the “recipe” by a friend of hers’ and my mother’s, Mary Battistuta Louglass, and that the origin was Mary’s mother. It had never been written down and the directions were basically, “a little of this and a little of that.” Evelyn asked lots of questions and finally got enough details to be able to replicate this tasty chuck beef stew.
There are several keys that cannot be overlooked. First, you must buy a chuck roast and cut it into bite size pieces yourself. Evelyn says she tried to have the butcher make the stew meat and it never comes out the same. Secondly, you must braise the meat in hot oil until it begins to stick to the side of the stockpot. If you don’t do this you won’t get the crispy seal on the meat.
1 1/2 – 2 lbs chuck roast, buy whole and cut into bite size pieces 4 TBS olive oil to coat bottom of pot
1 cup chopped white onion 1 clove garlic minced 2 TBS chopped parsley
1/4 + red wine, good enough to drink, more if you like 2 or 3 whole cloves
2 TBS flour mixed in cold water 2 TBS tomato paste salt and pepper to taste
boiling water to cover meat 3 regular size carrots chopped, or baby carrots.
1. Brown meat in a heated pot with the olive oil. The meat should be starting to stick to the sides of the pot. This is how you get a proper braise. You may have to brown it in batches.
2. Add onions, garlic and parsley. Stir often until the onion softens.
3. Pour red wine over the meat. Remember, no cheap wine. Cover and cook over a high flame until the wine evaporates, about 3 minutes.
4. Push meat to the side and add flour. Lower flame to make a roux.
5. Add tomato paste, boiling water, salt and pepper, carrots and cloves. Simmer, place cover half on for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Remove cloves (if you can find them) and serve over noodles or cavatelli. A type of pasta that will hold the sauce is best. Sprinkle parmesan cheese to taste and Enjoy!