Updated: Dec 3, 2022
On the weekends, I love project cooking- recipes that are a little too low and slow for weeknights when I need to get food on the table ASAP for my hungry menfolk. I have the time to really enjoy the cooking process on a slow, sleepy Sunday. Tobin is home to help wrangle our tiny humans and the grandparents are usually around to lend a helping hand. This "brasato," or Italian style pot roast, is one of my favorite weekend projects. It's actually fairly easy to throw together, but takes some added time to become meltingly tender in the oven. It makes your house smell like HEAVEN while it cooks and makes for great leftovers. I like to serve it over polenta, mashed potatoes or egg noodles with a zippy green salad to balance the richness of the beef. This is Sunday supper on steroids! Devote a few hours to this beefy braise the next time the opportunity arises. It requires half a bottle of red wine, so pour the rest for yourself to enjoy while cooking!
prep time: 45 min. cook time: 2.5-3 hrs. serves: 6-8
1 3-1/2 lb boneless beef chuck roast
Ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb sliced pancetta, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 large stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 cups dry red wine, preferably Italian, but use whatever you enjoy drinking
2 cups beef or chicken stock
chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 325° with the rack set in the middle. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy, oven safe pot over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper all over. When the oil is hot, sear the beef on all sides until a brown crust forms, for about 10 minutes total (get the sides too). Transfer the browned meat to a large plate.
Pour out all but 1 tbsp of the fat and add the pancetta to the pot, stirring for 3 minutes or until it is beginning to render and soften. Add the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 tsp salt to the pancetta, and let the mixture sweat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables are beginning to soften and slightly brown. Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir into the vegetables, allowing it to cook another 2 minutes.
Tie the herbs and bay leaf together with kitchen twine and toss them into the pot. Add the red wine and bring to boil, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom. Let the wine reduce by half and then add in the stock, another 1-1/2 tsp of salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste. Give the liquid a good stir and bring to a simmer.
Add the beef and any juices from the plate back into the pot, cover with the lid and place in the oven to braise for for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, until the meat is very tender. At the end of cooking, remove the meat from the pot to rest on a carving board (it should be tender enough to cut with a spoon). Skim most of the fat off the top of the sauce and discard it along with the herb bundle ("bouquet garni"). Boil the sauce on the stove about 5 minutes to thicken. Season with more salt and pepper to taste if needed. Optional: use an immersion blender to coarely puree the sauce, leaving a little texture (or transfer 1/2 the sauce to blender and then return the pot). Slice or shred beef into large pieces and return it to the sauce in the pot. Spoon the roast over polenta, potatoes or noodles in deep bowls garnished with chopped parsley. Buono apetito!