Even if you are thousands of miles away, there’s no doubt you will be transported to northern Italy for a few hours while the beef in this recipe cooks to melting tenderness. And even though in Italy—specifically, in Piemonte—it is braised in Barolo wine, this dish is delicious when any good full-bodied red wine is used in cooking it.
- 5- pound boneless beef roast, flat iron, chuck, or bottom round, trimmed of fat
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
- A cup extra- virgin olive oil
- 2 medium onions (1 pound total), peeled and quartered
- 3 medium carrots (½ pound total), peeled and cut into 2- inch wedges
- 4 medium stalks celery (½ pound total), cut into 2-inch chunks
- 6 plump cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 branches fresh rosemary with lots of needles
- 6 large fresh sage leaves
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 ounce dried porcini slices (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
- 2 bottles Barolo (750 ml each), or as needed
- 2 cups beef stock, or as needed
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F with a rack set in the center. Season all surfaces of the roast with half the salt. Pour the olive oil into a large, heavy braiser and set over medium- high heat. Lay the roast in, and brown it, until caramelized all over. Remove to a platter.
While keeping the skillet over medium- high heat, drop in the cut vegetables and garlic cloves, toss to coat with oil, and spread out in the pan. Drop in the rosemary, sage leaves, grated nutmeg, peppercorns dried porcini, and remaining teaspoon salt, and toss all together. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up the browned meat bits on the pan bottom, just until the vegetables soften; then lower the heat.
Push the vegetables to the sides and return the roast to the pan, laying it flat on the bottom. Pour in the bottles of wine and any meat juices that collected on the platter. The roast should be at least half submerged— add beef stock as needed.
Cover the pot, and heat until the wine is steaming but not boiling. Uncover the pan, and place it in the oven. After 30 minutes, rotate the roast so the exposed meat is now submerged in the braising liquid.
Braise this way, turning the meat in the pan every 30 minutes, for about 3 hours, until fork- tender. The liquid should not boil— if it does, pour in some cold water to stop the bubbling, and lower the oven temperature.
After 2½ hours, check the beef. It should be fork tender. Take the pan from the oven. Remove the meat to a platter, with intact carrot and celery pieces to serve as a garnish. Skim any fat from the braising juices, heat to a boil, and reduce to a saucy consistency that coats the back of a spoon. Pour through a sieve set over a clean container. Press the juices from the strained herbs and vegetable pieces. Pour in any juices from the meat platter, and season the sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. (If you are not going to serve right away, put the meat and reserved vegetables in the sauce to rest and cool, for a couple of hours or overnight in the refrigerator.)
To serve, slice the meat crosswise (easiest when it is cool). Pour a shallow layer of sauce in a wide skillet, and lay the slices in, overlapping. Heat the sauce to bubbling, spooning it over the beef, so the slices are lightly coated. Lift them with a broad spatula and slide onto a warm platter, fanned out. Heat the carrots and celery in the sauce, too, if you’ve saved them, and arrange on the platter. Serve, passing more heated sauce at the table.