Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Greek Beef Casserole

greek beef casserole 2-2

I consider myself lucky for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that I get to live in NYC (at least for now, you never know when New York Play Time will end). I also get to live just a few blocks away from one of the only butcher shops left in the city, and really, how many butcher shops do you know of in the rest of the country either? I can't remember really seeing any in Denver, but I may not have been looking.

Anyway, the Holland Court Meat Market is only a couple of blocks further than the grocery store, so a trip there is really no extra effort. I'll admit I don't buy meat all the time, and its probably the one food group with which I'm the least familiar. Enter the butcher. My grandmother learned to cook by asking her butcher questions when she was a newly married young mother. At Holland Court, if they don't stock it, they can get it, and pretty darn quick as well. Plus there's just something about buying your meat from a person who has dedicated (in this case) his life to a craft which seems to be dying out. Anyway, this really isn't an ad for our local butcher, but I'm so frequently disappointed with our large chain stores, that any opportunity to support smaller businesses is a welcome one.

greek beef casserole 2

This dish is something like a very paired-down beef bourguignon (but then, anytime beef gets cooked with red wine I think of Julia Child's famous dish), or better, a more sophisticated beef and noodles without the canned cream-of-whatever soups. You can put this one almost completely together well before you intend to serve it, but you do still need to leave 2 hours for it to stew. The spices, especially the cinnamon, are wonderful, and that final sprinkling of feta brightens up a relatively long-cooked casserole.

Greek Beef Casserole
Adapted from Annie Bell's In My Kitchen: Food for Family and Friends

4-5 medium sized plum tomatoes, chopped (you can skin them if you want, but I'm kind of anti the skinning of tomatoes. Too much effort and I like the skins.)
Oil for the pan
2 pounds top rump, fat trimmed and cut into 1" stewing cubes (this is another place the butcher comes in handy)
3 garlic cloves, passed through a press
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon round cumin
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 large shallots, peeled and diced
2/3 cup red wine
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Tagliatelle or linguine for serving, enough for 4 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Fresh feta and chopped flat leaf parsley for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or other large pot. Have a paper towel or brown bag waiting, and sear half of the beef on all sides. Remove the beef to the towel or bag, and sear the remaining half. Return all of the beef to the pot and add the garlic, nutmeg, cumin and cinnamon stick. Toss to coat the beef in the spices.

Add the tomatoes, shallots, wine, water and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir once in a while. Be sure near the end of the cooking time that your pot has not dried out. The liquid should have reduced to a rich broth.

25 minutes or so before serving start the pasta. Bring another large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the amount of time specified on the package. Drain the pasta into a colander, and add the butter to the pot in which it was just cooking. Toss the pasta with the butter. To serve, mound some of the pasta on a plate, and top with a serving of beef. Garnish with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.


5 comments:

Özgür Şef said...

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Özgür Şef said...

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croquecamille said...

I'm a big fan of supporting the local butchers, too. Especially since I recently found out just how cheap lamb is at my nearest one!

Kathy said...

A challenging recipe. If the ingredients are not available and improvising some of it may compromise the aroma and the texture. Looking at the tedious preparation your palate will be rewarded generously.

amish baby crib said...

This is really nice! I like it. I have never tried beef in my casserole recipes.