Jessica Battilana

Tomato-Braised Beef

Jessica Battilana
Tomato-Braised Beef

Serves 6

3 to 4 pounds beef chuck, in one piece

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 stalk celery, finely diced

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup dry red wine or chicken stock

2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes

10 garlic cloves, peeled

1 sprig rosemary

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Season the beef generously on all sides with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the beef (it should sizzle gently) and sear, turning as needed, until browned on all sides, about 10 to 15 minutes total. Transfer the beef to a rimmed baking sheet and add the onion, carrot and celery to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes more.

Pour in the wine, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and, using your hands, coarsely crush. Add 4 cups of the crushed tomatoes to the pot (reserve the remaining 2 cups tomatoes) and stir to combine, then stir in the garlic.

Return the meat to the pot and tuck the rosemary sprig in alongside it. When the tomato sauce begins to simmer, remove from the heat. Cover the pot with a sheet of parchment paper, then the lid on top. Transfer to the oven. Let cook for about 30 minutes, then uncover and check; the liquid around the beef should be simmering gently. If it’s bubbling vigorously, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.

Re-cover and continue to cook, turning the meat every hour or so, until the beef is fork-tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours. If the sauce looks too thick, add some of the remaining tomatoes. (To make ahead, cool to room temperature and then refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. Skim the fat from the surface of the braise with a spoon, then reheat, covered, in a low oven until heated through, about 30 minutes.)

With two large spoons, transfer the beef to a rimmed baking sheet. Let the tomato sauce sit until the fat rises to the surface, then use a spoon to skim off and discard. Season the sauce to taste with additional salt. Remove the rosemary sprig. You can leave the sauce with a rustic texture, or you can use an immersion or tabletop blender (or a food mill) to blend until smooth.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and cut into thick slices, then transfer to a platter and spoon some of the sauce on top and alongside the meat. Serve warm. Surplus sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 3 days, or can be cooled and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or break into chunks and reheat gently over low heat in a saucepan.

Photo Credit: The San Francisco Chronicle