Added by jmgarciajr | Thu 30 Jul 2009 @ 15:49
This dish is my Italianized version of an old Cuban classic (ropa vieja, which means \"old clothes\" since the finished product looks a bit like rags) and it\'s extremely easy to make, tastes glorious and is adaptable to seasonal variations.
1 beef brisket, about 1 to 1.5 lb., trimmed (ideally, the flat of the brisketē Flank also works well, but is a bit too pricey for this use.) I have no idea if this is called the same thing in the UK/Canada/Aus./NZ, but it comes from the cow\'s chest and it\'s thickish, and has a long and clearly defined grain; anything along these lines will work although this might require a longer or shorter poach)
6 cloves of garlic, mashed (adjust for garlic tolerance)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups crushed plum tomatoes with their juice (During the summer I like crushing fresh ones, otherwise I prefer San Marzanos, especially those in an aseptic carton, but canned/tinned will be fine)
1 medium yellow onion, diced as fine as your patience will allow
2 teaspoons fresh oregano or basil, shredded (NOT BOTH! I prefer basil in summer and oregano in winter)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano (optional)
Fresh ground pepper & salt to taste
Poach it at as low a heat and as long a time as you have patience for; the liquid should barely bubble. If you have a slow cooker, even better...let it poach overnight. You want to melt the connective tissue in the brisket so that this will be VERY readily shredded. Reserve the broth to make stocks, soups, etc. Put the garlic and onion in a small saucepan over medium-low heat with the extra virgin olive oil and saute until the onion is golden, making sure you don\'t color the garlic too much. Add the basil or oregano and tomatoes. Season w. salt and pepper. Cook until it coats the back of a wooden spoon.
Shred the beef with two forks into long, spaghetti-ish strands. Toss in sauce, as if this was a linguine or spaghetti dish. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano (Asiago works great, too) cheese, if desired. Other worthwhile options include crumbled pancetta and chile flakes, or porcini mushrooms reconstituted in Marsala or the beef broth.
Leftovers can be reheated and topped with buffalo mozzarella to make a terrific sandwich/panino; they can be topped with polenta to make an interesting variation on shepherd\'s pie or even folded over into a calzone. You can even add back a bit of the beef broth to make this more of a soup/stew thing.