Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian but it has come to mean a rustic, braised dish with tomatoes, onions, herbs and occasionally peppers and wine. We take a fast-forward approach here letting pasta sauce be a shortcut for a scratch sauce. You simply simmer beef in your favourite pasta sauce to fork tenderness, adding peppers along the way. It’s hearty and satisfying without needing a lot of tending.
Serve tossed with a hearty pasta, such as rigatoni.
1 lb (500 g) Boneless Beef Bottom or Top Blade Steaks, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, or Beef Stew Cubes
2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, divided (approx)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups (750 mL) or 1 jar (680 mL) tomato pasta sauce
Dried rosemary, thyme leaves and oregano leaves (optional)
1 sweet pepper (any colour), coarsely chopped (optional)
¼ cup (60 mL) red wine (optional)
1. Roughly cut steak into 1½-inch (4 cm) pieces. Pat beef dry with paper towel. Heat half the oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or large ovenproof skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add half the beef and brown for about 4 minutes, turning, until lightly browned all over. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with more oil and remaining beef.
2. Add more oil to pot, if needed. Cook onions, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Add pasta sauce. Taste sauce and crumble in a generous pinch of dried rosemary, thyme and oregano, if needed. Stir in ¼ cup (60 mL) water; bring to a boil. Stir in beef and any accumulated juices.
3. Cover and bake in preheated 250°F oven for 1 hour, then stir. If sauce is too thick, stir in a little more water. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Stir in sweet pepper and wine (if using), cover and bake for about 30 minutes longer or until meat is fork-tender.
Tips: Capers and black olives are also good additions to the sauce; stir in with the wine and sweet pepper for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
You can also add a pinch or more of hot pepper flakes for a bit of a kick; stir in while cooking the onions.
Garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley, basil or oregano leaves.