Let Italy inspire your dinner with this Sicilian beef ragout

In this recipe from Eliza Restaurant’s inaugural Farm to Menu BREADA charity dinner featured in our January issue, Mediterranean ingredients unite with Southern sensibilities in a savory beef dish accompanied by stone-ground grits. There, Eliza’s chef Russell Davis explained how to recreate the dish himself, including the correct way to serve it. He keeps scrolling to see for himself.


6 tomatoes, cut into wedges
¼ cup of olive oil, divided
2 tsp. salt, aside
2 tsp. black pepper
4 sprigs of thyme
3 pounds stewed meat, cut into 1-inch. cubes
½ cup of fennel, diced
½ cup onion, diced
1 large shallot, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp. flour
10 Castelvetrano olives
½ teaspoon. chili pepper pieces
1 ½ goblets filled with red wine
½ cup of beef broth
2 sprigs of rosemary
In a large bowl, toss the tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper and thyme sprigs leaves. Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet, skin side down.
Heat the remaining oil over medium-high in an ovenproof skillet and sear the stew, turning once. Cook in batches if needed to avoid overcrowding. Remove the beef to a bowl and turn the heat down to medium. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, garlic and remaining salt and pepper. Saute until lightly browned. Add the flour and mix until completely dissolved. Add the olives, pepper flakes and wine. Stir and cook for 2 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Add the stock, meat, and any accumulated juices from the bowl to the pot. Arrange the rosemary branches on top of the beef, cover the pot, and bake in a 300 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours, until the beef is very tender. Carefully remove pot from oven, taste and adjust seasonings. (Note: It’s best to cook the ragu a day or two in advance and reheat it to serve.) Cook the tomatoes at the same temperature for 2 hours.

Stone ground Parmigiano Reggiano:

4 cups of water
1 cup of stone ground grits
1 ½ teaspoon. salt
2 tbsp. Butter
¼ cup Parmesan, grated
In a pot, heat the water to a boil and whisk in the grits and salt. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes. Cover the pot, turn off the heat and let the grits rest for another 20 minutes. Combine the butter and cheese.

To serve:

Pour a large ball of the grits into one side of a pasta bowl. Ladle the ragu into the other side, making sure you scoop up an even amount of the meat, vegetables, and sauce. Garnish the meat sauce with 2 or 3 tomato wedges and serve.

Columnist Aimee Broussard writes more about the event and its homegrown ingredients in this story from our January issue.