I like to drink wine and I also like to cook with wine. The dilemma is when I open a bottle to cook with, I look at it and think “Would I rather be drinking this than pouring it into this pan?” I know you should only use wine for cooking that you would be happy to pour into a glass and drink and I do agree with this view to a certain extent. A case in point being a friend who returned home from work one evening to find his wife standing at the stove and a bottle of one of his prized reds standing open on the bench!
Now everyone who drinks and buys wine regularly knows that, now and again, you are going to get some that, well, aren’t quite what you thought they were going to be! Fortunately for my wine requiring recipes, this was the case for me. We had been seeing and reading a lot about Chilean wine and how close in style it was to Australian wine and so, given we drink and enjoy our local grape, we jumped on board and bought a case of chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t what we were hoping for either. We had the option to return it but I realised this could be the solution to my drink/cook wine dilemma! It is now my cooking wine.
It’s autumn and the cooler evenings begin to beckon the creation of some comfort food and so with a stash of red wine to cook with I decided to make Beef in Red Wine and didn’t have a single tinge of regret when I opened the bottle!
Beef in Red Wine
1kg Chuck Steak, trimmed and cubed
1 large or 2 small onions
2 celery stalks
2 large garlic cloves
50gm tomato paste
2 cups of red wine
1 cup of beef stock
Salt and pepper
Retrieve your slow cooker from the depths of your kitchen cupboard now summer has gone.
Coat the meat in seasoned flour and cook, in batches, in a large frypan in the olive oil until the outside begins to caramelise. Make a mirepoix or sofritto (depending on where you come from!) with the onions, carrot, celery and garlic. Rather than chopping away, I cut them into large chunks and throw them into my blender and blend until they are the right consistency – I find that this gives the flavour element and also adds a thicker consistency to the sauce. If you choose to do this, pay attention when you are blending – you don’t want to end up with a juice! Alternatively, you can dice these ingredients.
After the meat has all seared, remove from the pan and add the sofritto and cook for about five minutes. Add the tomato paste and allow it to cook out before adding the red wine. Allow the alcohol to cook off and the liquid to reduce a little and then add the beef stock. Add the meat back and bring up to a simmer before transferring everything into your slow cooker. Set the cooker to low and leave for at least nine hours (I cook mine overnight and the kitchen smells wonderful in the morning!).
When ready to serve, you may want to reduce the sauce in a pan if it needs to thicken a little more – adding a knob of butter will help as well as adding a bit of gloss and a little more richness. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
This dish is lovely served with egg noodles, creamy mashed potato or, as we had it, with gnocchi and, of course with a glass of wine you enjoy drinking!