Higgledy-Piggledy Greek Beef Pasta Bake

Brisket is one of my favourite cuts of meat and it’s inexpensive compared to other cuts. Easy to make as the oven does most of the work. 

Ingredients

For the beef

beef brisket joint, about 900g in weight

1 tbsp olive oil

3 medium onions, cut into wedges

2 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp dried oregano, or 1 tbsp fresh leaves

6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

4 bay leaves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 medium orange

4 large vine tomatoes, quartered

250ml red wine

2 tbsp clear honey

To finish

500g fresh egg penne (or 300g dried penne)

150g feta, crumbled

2 tsp olive oil

Method

1Preheat the oven to 140°C, fan 120°C, gas 1. Season the beef brisket all over. Heat the oil in a deep casserole (about 4 litre capacity) and brown the beef on all sides over a high heat (this will take about 5 minutes, turning regularly). Remove the beef and set aside on a plate.

2Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions to the fat left in the casserole. Cook for about 5 minutes until slightly coloured.

3Add the tomato purée, oregano, garlic cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks, then cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring. Pare 4 strips of zest from the orange, and squeeze the juice. Add these to the casserole with the tomatoes, wine, honey and some seasoning. Nestle the beef in among the sauce and vegetables. Bring to the boil, cover with a close fitting lid and transfer to the oven to cook for 4-5 hours or until the beef is fall-apart tender (the timing will depend on the size and shape of your joint of beef).

4Lift the beef out onto a plate or board. Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks from the sauce (the orange zest will be soft enough to eat). Remove the garlic cloves and squeeze the soft flesh into the sauce. Remove any binding string from the beef and then coarsely shred the meat using 2 forks (discarding any fat). Stir the meat back into the sauce and check the seasoning.

5Increase the oven temperature to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Tip the penne into a large pan of salted boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes until just starting to soften; it should still have quite a bite to it. Drain well in a colander.

6Spoon the still-warm beef into a baking dish (you can use a single large baking dish or divide it between smaller dishes, as you wish) and add the penne, standing it upright as far as possible so that you get lovely crunchy ‘caught’ ends as it bakes. Scatter over the feta and drizzle with the olive oil. Transfer the dish to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 25 minutes or until the beef is bubbling and the penne is slightly crispy.


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