I had this in a little restaurant down a small street in Rome a number of years ago. It’s a pretty basic dish. I was able to create the recipe for myself, although I have since found numerous ones on line. I have never been a huge fan of cloves – my Grandma Luisa added them to her gravy (red sauce) but don’t shy away from them in this recipe. It lends a very earthy taste to the dish – and basically the name of the the recipe is clove-scented beef.
My recipe is a little different since I wanted to keep it lighter in calories, and non-alcoholic. What I loved about the dish in the restaurant is they made a cooked down vegetable mixture that the meat was served on and also topped a beautiful Fontina Polenta that was served with it. Whole Foods hooked me up with a great lean, grass fed, beef steak tri-tip loin. The original recipe is a beef round roast, if you want to substitute the meat. Read on. Let me know what you think and if you made modifications.
2.5 lb beef steak tri-tip loin (2 pieces is fine) (Serves 4)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced in chunks
Fresh Oregano and Thyme, broken into pieces – keep stems on
1/8 cup of good olive oil
1 cup water – to deglaze the pan, after beef has been seared
* more water may be needed as meat cooks so its stays hydrated, never let pan dry out
4 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and cooked down (see my note about tomatoes at end)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
1 cup red wine vinegar as marinade
1 orange bell pepper, diced medium
2 extra large green onions, with green stems, sliced
handful of celery leaves (insides of celery stalk)
2 small zucchini, halved and sliced
Make small slits in beef and insert herbs and garlic, put beef in a dish and pour vinegar over top, turning occasionally, for about an hour. Take meat out, discard vinegar and dry beef. Add olive oil to pot and sear meat on all sides for about 15 minutes. Add water to deglaze pan. Add tomatoes and vegetables and cover for about an hour, checking on liquid.
Once the roast is done, remove it from pan and use a hand blender to mix up the vegetables, pureeing some of them. This creates a base for under the beef when serving. Reserve some for the Polenta side dish. See below.
6 cups boiling, salted water
2 cups of cornmeal (Non-GMO)
8 oz Fontina Cheese, sliced into pieces
Before preparing polenta, slice the cheese. Prepare polenta – easy to do. Boil salted water and add the corn meal and stir till smooth and it pulls away from side of pan. Pour half into a baking dish, quickly adding slices of cheese, pour balance of polenta and top with balance of cheese. Let it stand for a few minutes then put into a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes – top should be bubbly and brown but not burnt. Watch the oven. Slice into pieces and serve with meat, topping a small amount of the vegetable mixture to it.