Beef Braised in Barolo
Why This Recipe Works
The Italian version of pot roast is an inexpensive cut of beef braised in wine. But what a difference that wine makes. Full-bodied Barolo has been called the “wine of kings”—and can be somewhat expensive, so this pot roast has to be special. We wanted moist, tender meat in a rich, savory sauce that would do justice to the regal wine.
A chuck-eye roast won’t dry out after a long braise, but it has a line of fat in the middle that we felt was out of place in this refined dish. Separating one roast into two smaller ones enabled us to discard most of this fat before cooking the meat, and the two roasts cooked more quickly than one larger one. We tied the roasts to hold them together, then browned them in the fat rendered from pancetta, which added rich flavor. Aromatics were browned next; then we poured a whole bottle of the wine into the pot. Barolo is so bold-flavored that we needed something in the braising liquid to temper it, and that proved to be a can of diced tomatoes. When the meat was done, we removed it from the pot, reduced the sauce, and strained out the vegetables. Dark, full-flavored, and lustrous, this sauce bestowed nobility on our humble cut of meat.