For Bloomsday: Stracotto di maccheroni


Today is Bloomsday: June 16, the day upon which James Joyce’s novel “Ulysses” takes place (in the year 1904). Joyce fans and scholars celebrate the day by reading aloud, and dressing up, and doing all kinds of odd things.



This recipe I discovered on Facebook, in a nice blog called “Paper and Salt.” It was (evidently) one of Joyce’s preferred dishes, which he first tasted while living in Trieste. He asked his wife Nora (nee Barnacle) to cook it for him, in a letter to her: “I would like roast beef, rice-soup, capuzzi garbi, mashed potatoes, pudding and black coffee. No, no I would like stracotto di maccheroni, a mixed salad, stewed prunes, torroni, tea and presnitz. Or no I would like stewed eels or polenta with… Excuse me, dear, I am hungry tonight.”



(I find upon research that most of the Italian recipes for stracotto call for more interesting and exotic spices, like cinnamon. Partner doesn’t like beef with cinnamon, so, if/when I make this, I’ll make the version below – probably in a slow-cooker (except for the rigatoni):



2 pounds boneless chuck roast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, in 1-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, in 1-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
2 cups beef or veal stock
1 can (14 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 teapoon red chili flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound dry rigatoni
Grated parmesan, to taste



1. Pat roast dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a large pot over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon oil until hot but not smoking. Add meat and brown on both sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and set aside.



2. To the same pot, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Sauté over moderately high heat until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add wine, stock, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, and chili flakes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.



3. Return roast with any juices on platter to pot and cover. Braise, turning over once every 30 minutes, until tender enough to shred with a fork, about 3 hours. Add additional wine as needed, if sauce reduces too much.



4. Transfer meat to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, discard bay leaves from sauce and, using an immersion blender, purée sauce until texture is thick and even. Cut meat into 2-inch chunks, then shred with 2 forks. Return shredded meat to sauce, and season with salt and pepper.



5. Cook rigatoni in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Stir water into sauce, then add pasta and stir to coat. Top with grated cheese.



About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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