I don't have any Marcella Hazan cookbooks. But I did go on Amazon after reading Claudia's guest post on TNS a while back to get one. Or so I thought I got one. I must have been tired, because I actually chose the Giuliano Hazan book instead. He is Marcella's son. But after reading through it, I really love this book. Unlike the version that Claudia cooked from, this book seems to be wonderfully simplistic, recipes having minimal prep and ingredients, and it's just the every day things you'd eat if you were Italian -- so it's not complicated and the ingredients are usually items you probably already have in your house. And for people like me -- a mom who also has other stuff on her daily to-do list -- it gives you the prep time, and start-to-finish time for every dish. That is really convenient.
Trying to decide which recipe to make first was hard. I was like, Ooh! That looks good! every time I turned the page. But I had some roast in my fridge already, so I had to go with something beefy, and this just sounded so comforting.
Beef Braised in Milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lb. beef chuck, cut into pieces to fit comfortably in the pot
fresh ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 cup whole milk
First, you brown the meat in the butter and oil.
Once browned, remove temporarily from the pot.
Add the carrot and onion, and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the vinegar and let it bubble away until reduced by half.
Add the milk. As soon as it begins bubbling, lower the heat to simmer, and return the seared meat to the pot.
See the milk bubbling at the edges (below) -- LOWER THE HEAT. Any longer than this and the milk will probably curdle. If this happens, I suggest straining the curdled milk with a strainer or slotted spoon and adding more milk.
Cover with a tiny vent (lid askew) and cook until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Turn the meat about every 20 minutes while it's simmering. If all the liquid evaporates before the meat is done, add a little water. When done, the sauce is a dark walnut color, and the consistency of mustard.
Here is where I admit I didn't follow the recipe as written. Instead of cooking it on the stove for that hour and a half, I put it in the oven because I had to run some errands. I can't leave something on the stove and leave the house, it's not safe. But the oven - that's OK. The worst that can happen is that you'll end up with jerky.
The dish was so good. I got home late, so I overcooked it a tad (and so added a little bit of water to the sauce) but it was still very good, and it had a unique flavor-sweetness, no doubt from the milk. This is VERY good, and I'll definitely make this again. I can't wait to make other dishes from this book.