Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Linguine con Spezzatino di Manzo: Fatto a Mano

A deliciously rich and hearty Italian beef stew of meat and vegetables braised in red wine, Spezzatino di Manzo is a is a truly glorious dish. Similar to Beef Bourguignon, the concept is simple: beef is marinated overnight in red wine and aromatic vegetables and then braised in the oven with the marinade, stock, and vegetables until the meat is succulent and tender. About 15 minutes before serving, tiny pearl or cipollini onions, mushrooms, and bacon are added to the beef and the robust mahogany sauce created during cooking. As the beef stew is bubbling away, a tangle of fresh homemade pasta can be made very easily with a little flour and a few eggs, and simply kneaded until smooth and supple then fed through a pasta machine to your desired thickness. For a rich savoury stew such as Spezzatino di Manzo, a flat pasta such as linguine or fettuccine are ideal, then tutti a tavolo e mangiare!

Smoked side bacon chopped into a small dice

The bacon is sautéed until crisp then drained on paper towel

Beef chuck cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

The beef is then sautéed until browned on all sides

1 cup of diced onion

The chopped onions, salt, pepper and flour are added to the beef and cooked over high heat for 5 minutes

Red wine, beef stock, tomato paste, fresh rosemary and the reserved bacon are added to the beef, brought to a boil, then transferred to a 325°F oven for 2 hours

Meanwhile the pearl onions are trimmed, blanched then rinsed under cold water

The pearl onions are then peeled and set aside 

The crimini mushrooms are cleaned, timed then sliced or quartered, depending on their size

The mushrooms are sautéed in a little butter for 10 minutes then set aside also

Parboiled carrots, pearl onions and sautéed mushrooms are added to the cooked beef and heated through for another 10 minutes, then served garnished with chopped parsley

Flour is mounded in the centre of a clean surface with eggs cracked on top

Using a fork, beat the eggs together and begin to incorporate the flour, 
starting with the inner rim of the well then working your way out 

When the dough begins to come together, start kneading for about 10 minutes then wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes before using

Using a pasta machine, the dough is feedthrough successive settings until the dough is thin enough to pass it through the pasta cutting setting

The pasta can be stored on parchment lined baking sheets until ready to be cooked

The fresh pasta is cooked in boiling water until the strands float to the top

The pasta is drained and set in a large bowl where it's dressed with olive oil
and ready to be served with the Spezzatino di Manzo

Linguine con Spezzatino di Manzo
Serves 6

8 oz pancetta or thick sliced smoked side bacon, cut into small dice
3 lb well-trimmed boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup chopped onions
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups dry red Italian or Burgundy wine
3 cups beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch julienne
2 cups white or red pearl onions
8 oz fresh cremini or shiitake mushrooms
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

Pasta Dough:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
5 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a flameproof casserole or Dutch oven, sauté the bacon until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tbsp of the bacon drippings. Over medium-high heat, sauté the beef a few pieces at a time, until browned on all sides. Add the chopped onions to the beef, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add the wine, stock, tomato paste, reserved bacon and rosemary, and bring to a boil. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and bake until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. 

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: Bring a small pot of water to boil. Drop in the carrots and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again, then set aside. Make a small X in the root end of each pearl onion. Drop them into boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Peel and set aside. Slice the mushrooms lengthwise. Melt butter in a skillet, add the mushrooms and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, then set aside. When the meat is cooked, transfer the casserole to a stovetop burner and add the carrots, onions and mushrooms. Heat through, about 7 minutes. 

Meanwhile, begin to make the homemade pasta dough. Mound the flour in the center of a large wooden board. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs, then using a fork, beat the eggs together and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well. As you expand the well, keep pushing the flour up to retain the well shape. When half of the flour is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. Start kneading the dough, using primarily the palms of your hands. Once the dough is a cohesive mass, set the dough aside and scrape up and discard any dried bits of dough. Continue kneading for 10 minutes, dusting the board with additional flour as necessary. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.

Divide dough into 4 pieces and keep 3 pieces covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Flatten the dough to a shape somewhat narrower than the pasta machine opening then feed it through the machine's widest setting. As the pasta emerges, gently support it with your palm and guide it onto the work surface. Fold the dough in thirds and roll out again. Repeat the process 5 times. Pass the pasta through the next finer setting, repeating the folding and rolling process 6 times. At the third setting, repeat process only 3 times. If the pasta sheet becomes too long to work with easily, cut it into 2 pieces. Roll the dough through progressively thinner settings, without folding, until you have reached the thinnest or next-to-thinnest setting. Using the widest-cut attachment of the pasta machine, cut the pasta sheets into 1/4-inch wide strips and set on a floured parchment lined baking sheet until all the pasta has been made. 

Set a large pot of water to boil and when bubbling, cook the pasta until it floats to the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander and then return to the pot and drizzle with a little olive oil. To serve, spoon some of the beef stew into warmed bowls with some pasta and garnish with fresh parsley.

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