Braised Beef with Red Wine


French style. Be patient: The meat isn’t done until it’s almost falling apart.
TIME 2½ to 4 hours, mostly unattended
MAKES 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions, chopped
1 large or 2 medium carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
½ cup red wine, or more as needed
½ cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock or water, or more as needed
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish


Method
1 Heat the oven to 250°F. Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add some of the meat, working in batches to avoid crowding; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned on all sides, adjusting the heat and turning the pieces as needed so they don’t burn, about 10 minutes for each piece. As they brown, transfer them to a platter; repeat until all the meat is browned.

2 Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the fat; lower the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrot, and celery, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 10 minutes.

3 Stir in the wine and stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and add the browned meat. The braising liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the meat. If it doesn’t, add more liquid until it does. Raise the heat and bring to a boil; then lower it so that the mixture barely bubbles. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven. Cook, stirring every 45 minutes and adding liquid to keep the meat half submerged, until the meat begins to get tender, at least 1½ hours and more likely more than 2 hours.

4 Now begin to check the meat every 15 minutes or so, adding a spoonful more liquid only if the pot looks too dry. The braise is done when the meat is very tender and almost falling apart, at least another 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with the parsley, and serve.

Variations
  • Shortcut Braised Beef: I do this without hesitation when I don’t have time; it may not be quite as flavorful, but it’s still really good: Skip Steps 1 and 2 and put the raw meat and all the other ingredient —except the parsley—into the pot. Pick up the recipe again in Step 3 and continue as directed.
  • Other Cuts to Try: Whole or cut-up beef brisket, shoulder or arm roast, short ribs, lamb or beef shanks, or even oxtail. If you use a bone-in cut, plan on 3 to 4 pounds for 4 servings.
  • Other Vegetables to Try, Alone or in Combination: Chopped fennel or chunks of parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, or celery root; figure about 4 cups total.

Tips
  • If the mixture is too wet when the meat is done, transfer the pieces to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon, turn the heat to high, and let the sauce thicken and reduce. Spoon it over the meat to serve.
  • Braises and stews are even better the next day: When the dish cools a bit, cover and store it in the refrigerator for up to a few days (or in the freezer for months). The fat will harden on top for easy removal. Be sure to warm the dish gently on the stove in a covered pot so it doesn’t burn.

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