Braised Beef and Mushroom Rigatoni
* 1 kilo beef brisket, sliced into 3-inch pieces
* all purpose flour (to dust)
* olive oil (to sear)
* 1 ½ cups fresh white or brown mushrooms, sliced
* 1 cup white onions, chopped
* 1 tbsp garlic, minced
* 2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 cup dry red wine, like syrah or cabernet sauvignon
* 6 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 ½ tsp dried thyme
* 2 bay leaves
* 1 piece star anise (optional)
* 1 (400-gram) can diced tomatoes
* sugar (to taste)
* salt (to taste)
* ground black pepper (to taste)
* 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
* 500 grams rigatoni noodles, cooked according to package directions
* parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1) Heat a heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven over high heat until almost smoking. Meanwhile, dredge beef in flour, shaking off excess.
2) Add oil to pot. Sear beef in batches. Transfer beef to a plate; set aside.
3) Heat 1 tablespoon in the same pot over high heat. Fry mushrooms until browned, about 1 minute. Transfer to another plate; set aside.
4) Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pot; sauté onions over medium heat until translucent. Add garlic; sauté until fragrant. Add tomato paste; cook for about 1 minute.
5) Turn heat to high and add wine, thyme, bay leaves and star anise, if using. Let wine reduce to half.
6) Add tomatoes, 1 cup water and beef. Season with a bit of sugar, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and bring to a boil. Turn off heat.
7) Transfer mixture to a pressure cooker. Cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until beef is very tender. Let cool slightly.
8) Separate meat from sauce. Shred meat using 2 forks.
9) Place meat, sauce and mushrooms back in stockpot and bring to a boil. Taste then adjust seasoning. Add noodles; toss to mix well. Remove thyme stems, bay leaves and star anise.
10) Transfer pasta to a platter. Sprinkle with parmesan and garnish with fresh thyme.