Christopher Kimball, author of Milk Street: The New Rules, makes a Roman-style pot roast of tomato-braised beef seasoned with cloves, thyme and fennel.
"When you make a beef stew, don't sauté the meat," Chris says.
"In traditional bolognese cooking, you never brown the meat," Rach adds. "In fact, you barely take the color out of the meat. Although, for many dishes, I do say color equals flavor in cooking — and it can."
"In Rome, cloves are used to flavor the pot roast-like dish known as garofolato di manzo alla Romana," Chris says. "Cloves, known as chiodi di garofano, give the dish its name. The earthy, subtly smoky and slightly bitter flavor of cloves complements the natural sweetness of the onion, fennel and tomatoes used to flavor this dish. The beef typically is cooked as a large roast, similar to a pot roast. I prefer cutting a chuck roast into chunks and simmering the meat as a stew, as this ensures the pieces are succulent and flavorful throughout, while also slightly reducing the cooking time. For cool contrast, serve a Fennel, Tomato and Parsley Salad with the stew. Polenta or crusty bread is an excellent accompaniment for absorbing the flavorful sauce."
Pro Tip: If your cloves have been in the pantry for more than a few months, uncap and take a whiff. The aroma should be sharp and strong. If not, it's time to get a new jar.
Adapted from Milk Street: The New Rules: Recipes That Will Change The Way You Cook by Christopher Kimball. Copyright © 2019 by Christopher Kimball. Used with permission by Voracious. All rights reserved.
- 6 to 7 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 4 ounces pancetta, roughly chopped
- 6 medium cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the lower-middle position.
Place the beef in a large bowl and season with the cloves, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.
In a large Dutch oven over low heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until sizzling and the fat has begun to render, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces begin to brown, another 7 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and fennel, then increase to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beef, then cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours.
Remove pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered. Cook until a skewer inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, 1 to 1 ½ hours more.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. With a wide spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, then bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the thyme, then return the beef to the pot. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.