Recipe of the week
A holiday pot roast from northern Italy
Every holiday season, the “hearty yet elegant” braise below is enjoyed in households across Italy’s Piedmont region, says Jack Bishop in the cookbook Tasting Italy, a collaboration between America’s Test Kitchen and National Geographic. Our version uses a humble chuck-eye roast—the testers’ favorite cut for braises—but it’s a special-occasion dish because it requires a full bottle of “the king of wines”—Barolo—which cooks down to a “lustrous” dark sauce.
Beef braised in Barolo
1 (3½- to 4-lb) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled apart at seams and trimmed
¼ lb pancetta, cut in ¼-inch cubes
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp sugar
1 (750-ml) bottle Barolo
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
10 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp minced
Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 300. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Using three pieces of kitchen twine, tie each piece of beef crosswise to form even roasts.
In a Dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium-low heat until it has browned and fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Pour off all but 2 tbsp fat from pot.
Heat fat left in pot over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add roasts and brown well on all sides, about 8 minutes; transfer to plate. Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot; cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, flour, sugar, and pancetta and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out lumps. Stir in tomatoes and sprigs of parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
Return roasts to pot along with any juices. Bring to boil. Cover pot tightly with foil, then cover with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook, turning roasts every 45 minutes, until meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours.
Transfer roasts to a carving board, tent with foil, and allow to rest while you finish sauce. Let braising liquid settle 5 minutes, then skim off excess fat. Stir in minced thyme. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking vigorously to help vegetables break down, until sauce thickens and reduces to about 3½ cups, about 18 minutes. Put sauce through a strainer into bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have about 1½ cups strained sauce. (If necessary, return sauce to pot and continue to boil until reduced to 1½ cups.) Discard solids. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove twine from roasts, slice meat against grain into ½-inch-thick slices, and transfer to a serving dish. Spoon on half the sauce; pass remaining sauce at the table. Serves 6. ■