My Favourite Ingredients
Jason Lowe

Known as stracotto in Tuscany, brasato in Piedmont, this delectable, melt-in-the-mouth dish is soft enough to eat with a spoon. I cook it every year, when the weather turns cooler and my thoughts turn to food that will nourish and sustain me. Rich and simple, this dish is the sum of its parts – good wine, a good but not expensive cut of meat, some aromatic herbs and patience – the most invaluable ingredient of all. It will take all day to cook… but then good things come to those who wait.


Quantity Ingredient
1.5-2kg piece of shoulder or rump of beef, trimmed of most (but not all) of its fat
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
40ml olive oil
3 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
sprig bay leaves, (4-6 leaves)
small bunch thyme sprigs
small bunch flat leaf parsley
1 litre good-quality chicken stock
1 bottle red wine (750ml), preferably Chianti or Barbaresco
1 pig’s trotter, (optional)


  1. Season the meat generously all over with salt and pepper, then form into a neat roll and tie with string.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole (large enough to hold all the ingredients comfortably) over a medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the meat and brown well all over, turning as necessary; this will take about 15 minutes. Lift out onto a plate and set aside.
  3. Now add the vegetables to the casserole with the garlic and herbs, and turn down the heat slightly. Cook over a fairly low heat for 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and sweet.
  4. Return the meat to the casserole, pour over the stock and wine, and add the pig’s trotter if using. Put the lid on and reduce the heat to low. Cook over a very low heat (use a heat diffuser if possible) for 5 hours. Take out the meat and bay leaves, then strain the sauce through a colander, pressing firmly with the back of a ladle to pass the vegetables through – this will thicken and enrich the final sauce.
  5. Return the meat and bay leaves to the pan and pour over the strained sauce. Cook over a very low heat for a further hour. At this point, turn off the heat and allow to cool. (The flavour will be improved if the dish is allowed to come to room temperature and reheated to serve.)
  6. Before serving, reheat the stracotto gently – the meat should now be falling apart, with a rich, glossy sauce to accompany it. Serve in warm soup plates, with whatever you like. We sometimes serve it with coarse yellow polenta, or cavolo nero, or just a salad of winter leaves and good bread with which to mop up the juices.
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