Monday, January 30, 2006

Brasato al Barolo – Pot Roast al Barolo

When most people think of Italian cooking they are inundated with the “stuff” that Italian Restaurants offer. Depending on the level of the dining establishment it can go from overcooked spaghetti to some pasta dish and occasionally a frozen lasagna dish purchased from a national distributor. I would suggest that instead of sponsoring a law to eliminate Italian stereotypes in films, our representatives pass a law prohibiting the bastardization of Italian food by franchised food chains. It would be a greater service to the American people.

Italian cuisine is vast and touches most confines of taste sensations. Entrees, although not as known in the States, are one of the pillars of Italian cuisine. The bovine of Piemonte graze in the hills at the base of the Alps. Their alimentation results in a savory and distinct flavor. Brasato al Barolo accentuates these flavors, tenderizes and the sauce is a great compliment for boiled spring onions or potatoes.

Before we get into the ingredients a word about the cooking pot. The pot must be an appropriate size to allow the meat to remain submerged in the wine and herbs and spices. If the cover does not fit tightly, roll aluminum foil into a cord and wrap it around the top of the pot and then place the cover on the aluminum foil.

Ingredients

Rosemary – several twigs
Sage – 2 leaves
Garlic – 1 clove
Lard – 50 grams
Beef Roast – 1 kg (2 ¼ lbs.)
Onion – 1 medium
Celery – 1 stalk chopped
Carrot - 1
Bay leaf – 2
Nutmeg – a pinch
Cinnamon – a pinch
Barolo – 1 bottle
Olive Oil
Butter

Finely chop the needles of the rosemary, the sage, and the garlic. Cut the lard into strips and pass them through the chopped mix. Wrap the strips around the roast.

Place the meat in a bowl with the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add enough Barolo to completely cover the meat, cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate in a cool place for 24 hours.

Place the olive oil and butter in a heavy pot and heat on medium heat. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry. Place the meat in pot and sear on each side.

Remove the meat and saute’ the vegetables of the marinade in the heavy pot for 15 minutes. Replace the meat and reduce the heat to low. After 15 minutes add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of the wine from the marinade. Allow to cook for 1 hour, then add the remaining wine from the marinade, 1 cup at a time, allowing the wine to evaporate before adding the next cup of wine.

Finally, place the covered pot in the oven at 200 degrees (130 centigrade) for 3 hours. When cooked, the meat should be extremely tender and the sauce very creamy.

To serve, eliminate the bay leaves and allow the meat to rest for 15 – 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

To Serve

Pass the sauce quickly in the food processor while you cut the meat into ½ inch slices. Arrange the slices in a serving dish and pour the sauce over the meat.

This is Piemonte for excellence. Obviously serve with a properly aged and decanted Barolo or Nebbiolo.

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