Beef Braised in Barolo

One of my favorite flavor combinations in the world is beef and wine. Bring me a good Beef Bourguignon and I’m in absolute heaven. So when I saw this recipe while flipping through the Fall Entertaining edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine, it goes without saying that I was going to make it.

One small issue. Barolo wine is expensive – VERY expensive (most bottles start at a minimum of $40). And using it in cooking makes for a very expensive entree. (I’ve since found that Trader Joe’s has a barolo wine for $19.99. If I make this in the future, I’ll use theirs.) But at the time, the cost of the Barolo wine was cost prohibitive, so I ended up using a $25 Vietti Nebbiolo wine, which are the same grapes that are used to produce a Barolo. This substitution was successful, as the final dish was redolent with the flavor notes the recipe description said it would have; however, in case I make this dish again, I did buy the $20 Barolo to compare.


Also, the recipe calls for straining out the veggie bits in the gravy, but I kept them in – next time around, I’ll follow the recipe to the letter to compare as well. I served the dish with creamy polenta (which ended up solidifying up on me very quickly, I’ll find a better recipe before posting), and some Sugar-Glazed Roasted Carrots.

Beef Braised in Barolo
recipe courtesy Cook’s Illustrated Magazine

1 boneless chuck eye roast (about 3 1/2 lbs), separated at seams and each piece tied together in three pieces with kitchen twine
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (see recipe notes below)
2 medium onions, chopped medium (2 cups)
2 medium carrots, chopped medium (1 cup)
2 medium celery ribs, chopped medium (1 cup)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 bottle (750 ml) Barolo wine
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus 1 tsp. minced leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
10 sprigs fresh parsley

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly pat beef dry with paper towels; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place pancetta in 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towel-lined plate and reserve. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat; set Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat fat until beginning to smoke. Add beef to pot and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer beef to large plate; set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onions, carrots, celery and tomato paste to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, flour, sugar, and reserved pancetta; cook, stirring constantly, until combined and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add wine and tomatoes, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits; add thyme sprig, rosemary, and parsley. Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot, increase heat to high and bring liquid to boil, then place large sheet of foil over potand cover tightly with lid. Set pot in oven and cook, using tongs to turn beef every 45 minutes, until dinner fork easily slips in and out of meat, about 3 hours.

Transfer beef to cutting board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow braising liquid to settle about 5 minutes, then, using wide shallow spoon, skim fat off surface. Add minced thyme, bring liquid to boil over high heat, and cook, whisking vigorously to help vegetables break down, until mixture is thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 18 minutes. Strain liquid thorugh large fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids with spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have 1 1/2 cups strained sauce (if necessary, return strained sauce to Dutch oven and reduce to 1 1/2 cups). Discard solids in strainer. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove kitchen twine from meat and discard. Using chef’s or carving knife, cut meat against grain into 1/2 inch thick slices. Divide meat between warmed bowls or plates; pour about 1/4 cup sauce over each and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Recipe notes: Purchase pancetta that is cut to order, about 1/4 inch thick. If pancetta is not available, substitute an equal amount of salt pork (choose the meatiest piece possible), cut it into 1/4 inch cubes, and boil it in 3 cups of water for about 2 minutes to remove excess salt. After draining, use it as you would pancetta.

3 thoughts on “Beef Braised in Barolo

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