Thursday, May 22, 2014

Italian Style Meat Stew

Simple cooked meat and pasta remains a staple of comfort dining throughout the world, and in our house, it is true!  Typically, the request is spicy meat sauce with some fresh herbs thrown in at the end.  That's cool, and I was prepared to make some, but I had a jonesing for something different.  So I picked up some various cuts of meat and decided to make a slightly non traditional bolito misto.  

In Italy, bolito misto is a dish of boiled meats, sliced, and served with mostarda or salsa verde or a variety of other Italian condiments.  

I changed it up slightly.  Knowing that I would have spaghetti, I decided to use the idea of bolito misto, but I changed the sauce into a light tomato broth.  There is no real recipe as you would use regular pantry items and any cuts of meat that you desire.  I recommend using some meats with collagen in order to create a nice smooth, viscous broth.  For this purpose, I use a few oxtails, cross cut beef shanks, and beef spareribs, in addition to some hot Italian sausage and a cubed up chuck steak.

Thoroughly, salt and pepper all the meat (not the sausage) and rest for about 30 minutes.  In a large heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil and brown the seasoned meat in small batches.  When the meat is nicely browned, remove to a baking pan and reserve.  In the pot, add 2 chopped onions and 2 chopped carrots.  Scraping up any bits on the bottom, brown the vegetables and remove any residue that has accumulated on the pot.  This is the first step of creating a wonderful rich sauce.  Incorporate a nice handful of minced fresh garlic, and sweat gently.  Add a small can of tomato paste and mix very well.  Stirring frequently, brown the paste into the vegetables and splash in a few shots of fish sauce. 

Using about a cup or so of red or white wine (whatever you have extra at the moment), deglaze and continue scraping the pot.  Add three cans of good tomatoes and crush with the spoon.  When all the ingredients begin to create a nice, aromatic mash, add 2 quarts of chicken or beef stock or water.  Bring up to a simmer and add reserved meat.  Allow this to cook for a few hours, and the sauce should begin to gently reduce and thicken.  The meat will begin to separate from the bone, and add the sausage and a generous pinch of red chili flakes while simmering for another 20-30 minutes.  When you feel the sauce is done, throw in some fresh herbs such as sage, basil, oregano, and parsley.  Any combination will do.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle the broth over spaghetti and serve with a few pieces of meat, grated hard Italian cheese, garlic bread, and a nice Nero D'Avila!!!!  

Nothing beats a giant bowl of meat and pasta.  Various combinations of ingredients can be used including mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, other meats, and herbs.  I used what I had at home, and I might change this dish each time I make it.  Have fun, experiment, work with the seasonings, and just make it taste good!    

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