When I am short on time and want something to taste as if it has simmered away for days uninterrupted on the stove, I turn to a few flavour hacks – semi-dried tomatoes and veal stock. They add intensity of flavour and velvety mouthfeel, without the labour and time.
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled, finely diced
6 garlic cloves, grated
leaves from 1 sprig of lemon thyme
1.4kg chuck steak, cubed
300ml veal jus or veal stock (or beef stock if unavailable)
100g smoked semi-dried tomatoes
2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
1-1½ cups beef stock, as needed
2 x 400g cans white beans, strained and rinsed under running water
pesto, or try chimichurri for a touch of heat
1 ball burrata (about 170g)
1. Place a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil and once hot, add the onion. Cook, stirring regularly, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant. Add the beef and cook until browned and beginning to caramelise. Add the veal stock, semi-dried tomatoes and crushed tomatoes and turn heat to low.
2. Place the lid over ¾ of the pot and simmer for 4 hours or until the beef is soft and the sauce has reduced and looks lovely and glossy. If you are concerned the sauce is reducing too rapidly, have the additional 1–1½ cups of beef stock on standby. If it is looking at all dry, add the stock and continue to cook.
3. Add the white beans and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring gently to incorporate.
4. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Strain and transfer into bowls. Top with beef stew, a dollop of pesto or chimichurri, and carefully tear the burrata, distributing pieces among the bowls. Season with salt and pepper and serve.