Friday, 27 January 2012

Getting Warmer...

Straccetti di Manzo a Brodo con Orzo Perlato
Strips of Braised Beef with Pearl Barley & Vegetables

Yes indeed... getting warmer is what it's all about when the real cold of the Winter weather finally does come around. Like this evening! I got home frozen through and needing something hot, tasty and good- it was Friday night, the working week was behind me and I figured I deserved it!

Being as I had some other chores to do before being able to settle down to supper, I decided to sacrifice the slice of braising steak I had planned on turning into a Bolognese at some point this weekend and make something else. I cut it into thin strips, or "Straccetti" and put it on to a slow boil until it was tender and at the same time, I had a nice tasty broth to use for this great bowl of Winter wonderment!

Ok- so the meat simmered for about 45 minutes, after which time I began cooking the rest. I started off with some chopped carrot, celery and finely chopped celery stalks, which I sautéed in a little olive oil with some crushed garlic. Yes, I did say that I used the stalks there- I always do! Do you throw them away? What a shame! There is much more flavor in the stalks than in the leaves when it comes to cooking! That is why I always prefer to cook with the stalks and add the leaves at the end.

After around 2-3 minutes, add the barley to the vegetables and add the meat from the other saucepan, whilst retain the broth at a low simmer. Season with a little marjoram, chili, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Now proceed to add the broth, little be little and to keep on stirring, as you would when making a risotto. After 10-15 minutes the barley should be almost ready and this is the time to add the last ingredients, which are a handful of chopped green beans, a couple of sun-dried tomatoes cut into strips and yes- now you can add the other handful of finely chopped parsley!

After a further 5 minutes of cooking, everything should be mild, fresh, tasty and ready to serve! I added a little fresh, creamy ricotta and some finely chopped Kalamata olives, along with a few fresh leaves of parsley... and dinner was served! Warming and simple and delicious- just the thing to keep the cold at bay! Enjoy!

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