serves 6. hands-on time 20 min, simmering time 3 hours

Traditional in the Italian Aosta Valley that borders the Rhone-Alpes, this is a dish of salt beef cooked with onions, herbs, spices and lots of red wine, served with polenta or bread. The French version of this dish - carbonnade (with a double `n') - is usually cooked in beer. If you can't find the uncooked salt beef, you can just use braising steak instead.

Cook the dish up to 24 hours in advance, leave to cool completely in the juices, then cover and keep in the fridge. Bring up to room temperature before heating through in a hot oven for 30 minutes until piping hot. You can also freeze it for up to 1 month in a sealed container once it has cooled down. Reheat until piping hot throughout.

Olive oil for frying
1.2-1.4kg piece uncooked British salt beef or braising steak, cut into large pieces (see introduction)
2 tbsp plain flour
50g unsalted butter
3 large onions, sliced
500ml full-bodied Italian red wine
500ml fresh beef stock
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 fresh thyme sprigs
Freshly grated nutmeg

1 Heat a little oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Dust the meat in the flour, then fry in batches until browned all over, adding a splash more oil if needed. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2 Heat a little more oil in the pan and add the butter, onions and a good pinch of salt. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Return the beef to the pan and add the red wine, stock, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, thyme and a good grating of nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper.

3 Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook over a low heat for about 3 hours until the meat is tender and falling apart. Serve with creamy polenta, if you like.

per serving: 494kcals, 22.3g fat (9.8g saturated), 46.5g protein, 10.2g carbs (5g sugars), 0.9g salt, 1.9g fibre

wine editor's choice: A brown ale, decent Chianti Classico or Rhone red such as Châteauneuf du Pape.





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