A cold and rainy night in San Diego makes me think of comfort food. We don’t really have all that many occasions to make believe that we’re in the throes of winter with a storm raging outside. Wind and rain will have to do and so I took the opportunity to prepare a dish that I’ve been thinking about for a while-brasato al barolo. I first sampled this dish in the charming town of Serralunga d’Alba, which is in Piemonte not far from the town of Barolo. We had been directed to a restaurant here by our innkeeper. After wandering down every little lane in the town we finally found the restaurant and settled in for a long and relaxing lunch. Everything we sampled was spectacular and the wines produced by the family were just the right the accompaniment to the braised beef.
You’ll want to make this dish when you have time to let it cook for about 2-1/2 hours. Ideally, you should start marinating the meat the day before, but I admit that I didn’t do that this time. The recipe calls for a bottle of Barolo wine, but you could substitute another full bodied red wine, preferably an Italian one. I served this with polenta, but it would be just as good with mashed potatoes. Carrots or sauteed spinach make a nice side dish. The star here is the tender meat and its flavorful sauce. I’m giving you the recipe as I made it.
Brasato Al Vino Rosso
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
4 fresh sage leaves
4 juniper berries
1 bottom round roast, about 3-4 pounds (I used a rump roast)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bottle red wine (Barolo, Barbera or Barbaresco are traditional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Put some olive oil in bottom of a heavy dutch oven and heat to shimmering over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides and then remove to a plate. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, thyme, sage, bay leaves and the juniper. Saute until the onions are softened, add salt, pepper and wine and bring to a boil for a minute. Add the meat back to the pot, cover and place in the preheated oven. Periodically, turn the meat over and cook for a total of 2 hours. After this time, remove the lid to let the liquid reduce a little and cook 1/2 hour more. Remove from oven and place meat on a plate to rest. Remove the bay leaves from the pot and puree the liquid and the vegetables wither with an immersion blender (the easiest if you have one) or in a blender or food processor. Taste the sauce for seasoning, slice the meat across the grain, top with sauce and serve. This is also incredibly flavorful the next day.
Oh-and don’t forget to open a good bottle of red wine to serve with your brasato!