Cool winter nights call for time spent in the warmth of the kitchen, preparing hearty, nourishing fare. The aromas of the slow-cooking beef will fill the entire house, and draw hungry folks to the kitchen like moths to the flame.
Homemade gnocchi is a revelation. They’re little pillows that soak up sauce readily, like this simple but excellent braised beef.
- olive oil, for cooking
- 500 g chuck steak, cut into 2.5 cm cubes
- 1 brown onion, roughly diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 x 400 g canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp thyme leaves
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 cup rock salt
- 750 g desiree potatoes, plus extra for dusting
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 175 g plain flour
- 1 cup basil leaves, roughly torn
- 80 g parmesan, finely grated
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the slow-cooked beef, heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper, add to the pan, in two batches, and cook until well-browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same frying pan, add a little more oil, reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, carrot and garlic and cook until softened.
Add the tomato paste and cook until darkened aromatic.
Add the crushed tomatoes, thyme and bay leaves, and stir to combine, scraping up the cooked-on bits on the base of the pan. Return the beef to the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook for 2½ hours or until the beef is falling apart and the sauce is rich and thick.
For the gnocchi, preheat the oven to 200°C.
Spread the rock salt onto a baking tray and place the potatoes on top. Bake for 1–1½ hours until you can pierce the potato with a knife and feel no resistance.
Remove from the oven and when they are just cool enough to handle, rub the off the skins and push the flesh through a ricer or moulis into a large bowl.
Add the egg and salt to the potato and stir to combine.
Sieve in the flour and gently bring the mix together with your hands, being careful not to overwork the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench. Take a small handful of the dough and roll it into a 2 cm cylinder. Use a sharp knife to cut the cylinder into 2 cm-long pieces, repeat with remainder of the dough. Take the gnocchi and run them down the tines of a fork to make grooves, which will fill with sauce when the gnocchi are cooked. Place onto a lightly floured tray and cover with a tea towel until ready to use.
When ready to serve, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi for 3–4 minutes or when they float to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon, shake off the excess water, and divide among serving bowls.
Spoon over the beef, top with the basil and parmesan.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Nick Banbury. Creative concept by Belinda So.