Of all the possible ways to cook a hunk of meat, my absolute favorite is braising. Without a doubt, I love to braise. It makes everything tender, delicious, and it’s low maintenance. It’s the best way to make an inexpensive and tough cut of meat into a delectable, elegant dinner. You could braise a boot and make it delicious. I know this is an extreme example, but it’s pretty close to true. Braising is like magic.
Braising uses both moist and dry heat to break down the tough connective tissues of tough meats. A vital step for building flavor when braising is searing the meat first. By searing the meat, you get all these flavor-boosting crusty brown bits at the bottom of the pot. You must embrace the brown bits. Brown bits good. Brown bits awesome. I know it seems like an extra step, but I promise it’s a step worth taking.
Braising is the same thing your slow-cooker does, so you could absolutely make this in a slow-cooker, but don’t skip the searing. Sear the meat in a separate pan, deglaze the pan using wine, scrape up the brown bits and add them to the slow-cooker.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a dutch oven or a heavy oven-safe pot. Let it get nice and hot.
Add diced carrots and cook until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
When the carrots start to brown, add the onions and celery. Do your best not to fidget too much with them.
Cook the vegetables until the onions begin to caramelize. I know you will be tempted to stir and fidget with the vegetables, but trust me, let them sit a bit, stirring occasionally. It’s the best way to get some good caramelization.
Once you get some color on the onions, use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and set aside on a plate.
Pat the beef chuck dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy–it’s a big piece of meat.
If needed, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in dutch oven and let it get nice and hot. The butter should shimmer. Sear the beef on each side for about 5 minutes–don’t fidget with it. It should be brown, not grey, and crispy on the edges. Remove beef and set aside.
Pour 1/2 a bottle of red wine into the pot while still hot. Using a firm spatula, scrape up all the crusty brown bits at the bottom of the pot. CRUSTY BROWN BITS ROCK!!
Return vegetables to the pot.
Lay browned beef on top of vegetables. Add fresh herbs, garlic and bay leaves.
Tuck herbs into the liquid and bring to a boil.
Cover and place in oven at 325 degrees for 3-4 hours or until tender. It should fall apart using a spoon. If it’s still firm, return to the oven and let it go another 30 minutes.
There are over a dozen different ways to serve this braised beef: over polenta, with mashed potatoes, tossed with pasta, stuffed in ravioli or maybe served with gnocchi. Mmmm gnocchi…
I found these delightful little nuggets of pumpkin gnocchi while grocery shopping and I knew that they had to be in my life. I didn’t know their purpose when I bought them, but they found their purpose, tossed in brown butter and perfectly paired with red wine braised beef.
“SAY WHAT???!!!” you said.
That’s right, you heard me. Pumpkin gnocchi tossed in browned butter, mounded with a generous helping of deliciously braised beef on top. Please refrain from licking the screen; there is a 98.4333% chance that it will just taste like dust.