Bue brasato al Barolo

Beef Braised in Barolo Wine

Braised beef from the Piedmont uses the famed Barolo wine of the region. While you may use another big red wine, try making this recipe with the regional classic at least once. It’s a perfect fit, so drink some with your dinner, too, to get a true sense of Piedmontese terroir. Serve the beef with polenta or mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 4 strips pancetta, each 4 inches long and ¼ inch wide
  • 1 beef rump roast, about 3 pounds

For the Marinade

  • 1 bottle Barolo wine
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or chopped pancetta fat
  • cup grappa or other brandy
  • ¼ cup prepared mustard, or to taste (optional)
  • ¼ cup tomato purée (optional)

Method

If you are skilled with a larding needle, thread the pancetta strips through the heart of the roast. If not, cut the pancetta strips into 1-inch pieces. Using a small, sharp knife, make small slits all over the surface of the beef and insert the pancetta pieces into the slits. Either technique will moisten the meat from within while it braises.

To make the marinade, in a shallow, nonreactive bowl just large enough to hold the roast, stir together the wine, onion, celery, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. Add the roast, turn to coat, cover, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or for up to 2 days. Remove the meat from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you begin cooking.

Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels; reserve the marinade. In a Dutch oven or a deep, heavy sauté pan, melt the butter or render the pancetta fat over medium-high heat. Add the roast and brown on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, scraping up the brown bits. Reduce the heat to medium, add the marinade, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, 2½ to 3 hours.

Transfer the meat to a carving board and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Pour the contents of the pan through a sieve placed over a clean saucepan. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, then purée the vegetables in a food mill or a food processor. Add the puréed vegetables to the pan juices, stir well, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the mustard or tomato purée, if desired, but not both. Adjust the seasoning.

Slice the roast and serve hot, with the pan juices spooned over the top.

Wine

Barolo is the choice here. Go with a traditional producer such as Marcarini or Vietti, or with a modernist such as Clerico or Seghesio.