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Milk Street All-New Italian (Ep 414)

Roman Braised Beef with Tomato and Cloves

Start to finish: 4 hours (30 minutes active) | Servings: 6

In Rome, cloves are used to flavor the pot roast-like dish known as garofolato di manzo alla Romana. Cloves, known as chiodi di garofano, give the dish its name. The earthy, subtly smoky and slightly bitter flavor of cloves complements the natural sweetness of the onion, fennel and tomatoes used to flavor this dish. The beef typically is cooked as a large roast, similar to a pot roast. We prefer cutting a chuck roast into chunks and simmering the meat as a stew. This ensures that the pieces are succulent and flavorful throughout, while also slightly reducing the cooking time. For cool contrast, we make a salad of fresh fennel, tomatoes and parsley (see following recipe) to serve with the stew. Polenta or crusty bread is an excellent accompaniment for absorbing the flavorful sauce.

Don't use ground cloves that have gone stale, as they won't add much flavor or fragrance to the braise. If your cloves have been in the pantry for more than a few months, uncap and take a whiff. The aroma should be sharp and strong. If not, it's time to get a new jar.


  • 6 to 7 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces pancetta, roughly chopped
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and thinly sliced
  • 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed


Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Place the beef in a large bowl and season with the cloves, 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.

In a large Dutch oven over low, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until sizzling and the fat has begun to render, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces begin to brown, another 7 minutes. Add the garlic, onion and fennel, then increase to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beef, then cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours.

Remove the pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered. Cook until a skewer inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. With a wide spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, then bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 10 to 12 minutes.

Stir in the thyme, then return the beef to the pot. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated through, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Fennel, Tomato and Parsley Salad

Start to finish: 15 minutes | Servings: 6


  • 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed

INSTRUCTIONS In a medium bowl, toss together the fennel, tomatoes, parsley, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Bucatini with Cherry Tomato Sauce and Fresh Sage

Active time: 20 minutes | Start to finish: 45 minutes | Servings: 4 to 6

This dish takes inspiration from a recipe in “Simple” by Yotam Ottolenghi. But instead of conventional stovetop simmering, we pressure-cook cherry or grape tomatoes, which tend to be dependably good no matter the season, into a tangy-sweet sauce. The pasta cooks in the pot at the same time, so there's no need to boil a separate pot of water. Fresh sage, smoked paprika and pecorino Romano cheese ratchet up the flavors. We especially liked this dish made with bucatini pasta, which is a thick, tubular spaghetti; linguini is a good alternative, but reduce the pressure-cooking time to 4 minutes.

Don't forget to break the pasta in half so the strands lay flat in the pot. And when adding the pasta, make sure no pieces poke above the surface of the liquid. All of the pa ta must be fully submerged to cook properly.


  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pints (1 pound) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon white sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta, broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved or finely grated, to serve

INSTRUCTIONS START: On a 6-quart Instant Pot, select More/High Sauté. Add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, pepper flakes and bay, then cook, stirring, until the garlic is light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and 3 cups water. Add the pasta, placing the strands horizontally so they lay flat, then press them into the liquid until submerged.

FAST: Press Cancel, lock the lid in place and move the pressure valve to Sealing. Select Pressure Cook or Manual; make sure the pressure level is set to High. Set the cooking time for 5 minutes. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to Venting. Press Cancel, then carefully open the pot.

FINISH: Using tongs, toss and stir the mixture to separate the strands of pasta, then stir in 1 tablespoon of sage and the paprika. Re-cover without locking the lid in place and let stand until the pasta is al dente, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay, then transfer to a serving dish and top with pecorino and the remaining 1 tablespoon sage.

Tuscan Braised Potatoes (Patate in Umido)

Start to finish: 1 hour | Servings: 4

This hearty vegetable stew is based on a recipe in “Autentico” by Rolando Beramendi. The potatoes are cooked using a technique that's often employed with risotto: the liquid is incorporated in multiple additions. This concentrates flavors while using the potatoes' natural starch to create a sauce that clings lightly to the chunks. We like the flavor backbone of chicken broth, but you could make this dish vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth. Patate in umido is an excellent accompaniment to roasted chicken, pork or seafood.

Don't use a narrow pot; the wide diameter of a Dutch oven allows for more rapid evaporation of liquid. Also, don't use lower- starch potatoes, such as red, white or Yukon Gold potatoes. Russets are the best choice, as their starchiness gives them a light, tender texture when co the sauce a velvety quality.


  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 small red onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 14½-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 2½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8-inch sprig fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

INSTRUCTIONS In a large Dutch oven over medium, combine the oil, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions just begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potato starch that coats the bottom of the pot starts to brown, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes, 1 cup of broth, the pepper flakes, rosemary and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then distribute the potatoes in an even layer. Cook, occasionally scraping along the bottom of the pot with a silicone spatula and gently folding the mixture, for 10 minutes; adjust the heat as needed to maintain a steady simmer.

Add ½ cup of the remaining broth and cook, occasionally scraping and folding, for another 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup broth in 2 additions in the same way, cooking for only 5 minutes after the final addition and stirring gently so the potatoes don't break up. Cover the pot, remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Stir in half the basil, then season to taste. Remove and discard the rosemary, then transfer the potatoes to a bowl, drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with the remaining basil.

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