Braised Corsican Beef; shopping like a local

This is one of those long-cooking dishes that I love doing during the winter. It’s not quite a stew and not quite a pasta.

I decided to make it for our dinner party.

We had Butternut Squash Soup to start, Mashed Potatoes, with the Corsican Beef, Chard Gratin, and simple Buttered Spaghetti Squash. That was followed by the cheese course, and, finally, the Gingerbread Cake.

For the beef, if possible, get 1 or 2 thick slices of dry-cured ham from the meat counter.

For my dinner party I served it with mashed potatoes but it’s traditionally served with pasta.

Correction: I originally had 4oz of spaghetti listed in ingredients. I changed that to 8oz. The recipe as written will serve 4 persons. For us, as we are 2, we have it the first time with spaghetti (4oz) and the second time with polenta or mashed potatoes. Sorry for the confusion….

Braised Corsican Beef

Total time: 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 24oz (720gr) beef, suitable for braising or stewing, cut into 1/1/2″ (4cm) pieces
  • 6oz (180gr) dry-cured ham, (Prosciutto, Bayonne), chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4oz (120gr) mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbs flour
  • 1 3/4 cups (15oz, 450gr) whole tomatoes, with juices, chopped
  • 1 cup (8oz, 240ml) white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried Herbes de Provence
  • 2 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 8oz (240gr) spaghetti

Corsican Beef


  • Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions, mushroom, garlic, ham and sauté until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  • Put flour in a bowl or food bag, add beef and toss well to coat.
  • Add beef to pot and brown on all sides. Do it in batches if it’s too crowded.
  • Return all beef and vegetables to pot.
  • Add wine to pot, stirring well to scrape up the browned bits.
  • Add tomatoes, juices, herbs, nutmeg and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a slow simmer (small bubbles just breaking the surface), cover and cook for 3 hours.
  • Cook spaghetti according to package directions, just until al dente.
  • Drain and immediately return to pan to low heat.  Add 1 cup of the sauce from the beef (but no meat) and stir to combine and heat through.
  • Arrange the pasta on a small platter or two plates.
  • Remove bay leaves.
  • Spoon some beef and ham on top or the pasta and serve.

Print Recipe

I did the weekly shopping, as usual, today.

It was crazy busy….

On the drive home, to entertain (and calm) myself I created this guideline on:

How to Shop Like the French

  1. Shop en famille. The more the merrier and best if you can include lots of small children.
  2. Start in the middle of the store, then randomly go from aisle to aisle. Then do it all again in case you missed something.
  3. Go against the flow – if there is one. That way you can see more people you might know.
  4. When you do see a friend, park your chariot (shopping cart / trolley) crosswise in the aisle. If you both do that you’ll have more room to faire la bises (exchange kisses) and are more likely to be noticed by other friends. Relax and have a nice long chat while the kids play.
  5. Always change directions mid-aisle rather than at the end. It’s more fun and keeps life interesting.
  6. When you’re having difficulty finding something, just leave your chariot in the middle of the aisle and wonder around looking. No one will bother it and you might run into a friend.
  7. And always park your chariot on the opposite side of the aisle from where you are choosing your items.
  8. Just want the inside celery ribs? No problem, just rip the outer ribs off the stalk and set them aside. It’s sold by weight after all.
  9. When you are through enjoying your time in the store and are at the cashier remember, it’s okay if, after you’ve loaded all of your items on the conveyor, you realize you should have bought more oranges. You can go back for a few more. No one will mind.
  10. Enjoy your day.

I started this off a bit (?) sarcastically….. But I realized, thinking back on it all, everyone really was enjoying themselves. No one was yelling at the kids or rushing around frantically. They were smiling and chatting and leisurely shopping. No one was in a hurry. No one else even noticed when the lady at the fish counter had all of the perch weighed individually so she could decide which 2 she wanted.

Oh – and in the check-out line the cashier will not even look at the next customer until the current one has bagged all of the purchases, paid, put the wallet away, buttoned up the coat, done whatever else and said au revoir.

Then, and only then, will the cashier turn to the next in line and say bonjour

I’m the only one driven crazy by it all.

It really is much more pleasant to shop the French way

I hope I get the hang of it soon….

Last update on November 4, 2016

7 thoughts on “Braised Corsican Beef; shopping like a local”

  1. “…rip the outer ribs off the stalk and set them aside. It’s sold by weight after all.”

    I don’t think I’ve seen Americans do this. But I’ve seen people buying ginger in the USA who pull off the small knobs or mis-cut bits. So I started doing it too!

  2. Dan, I always snap off the amount of ginger I want – otherwise I’d have to buy enough for 10 years!. But the celery was new to me, too. I don’t think I have the ‘Frenchness’ to pull that off lol

    Zoomie, I have always hated doing the shopping so I have a very hard time with it all…. until I see someone I know, then I stand around like everyone else….

  3. I made this last night and it was delicious. The proportions for the beef recipe are perfectly balanced. But I was a little confused about the recipe calling for 1 1/2 lbs of meat to 4 oz of spaghetti? Am I missing something?

    • You’re not missing anything – I did. Sorry. I cook for two so the meat is meant to be for 2 meals for 2 people – 1 of which has spaghetti. The other I often do polenta or mashed potatoes. I’ll clarify the post

      • We did have 1/2 of the beef mixture leftover. Yay leftovers! And with polenta or mashed potatoes. Yum!
        Love your description of French grocery shopping. Sounds like what goes on here at Costco. lol!

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