Serves 8 to 10

Notes

This hearty one-pot meal is perfect for a dinner party, especially in the fall or winter. It is great for family-style dinners, too, and can be made a day or two in advance— it reheats well. You can easily substitute whatever you have on hand for the vegetables; just keep in mind that the cooking time may need to be adjusted. I use red wine here, which gives the stew a lot of body, but white wine is good as well. This recipe is also very good using game meat instead of beef. Boar and venison are excellent prepared this way; just keep in mind that the game meat might be tougher and take longer to cook. Add more stock when cooking, and check the doneness of the meat by inserting a fork. If the fork penetrates the meat easily and slides out cleanly, that is an indication that the meat is likely done.

Ingredients

  • 6-pound boneless beef bottom round roast, tied
  • 6 cups chicken stock (page 148)
  • ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 ounce)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion coarsely chopped, plus 2 medium onions cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage
  • One 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • One 750ml bottle dry red Italian wine
  • 2 pounds rutabaga or turnips, peeled and cut into 1-to-2-inch chunks
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Directions

To tie the boneless beef bottom round you will need a long piece of butcher’s twine. Tie the twine tight around the large part of the roast with a square knot. With your index finger, hold the twine down about 1 inch from the first knot. With your other hand, wrap the twine around the meat. Press the twine under the twine held by your index finger, pull it tight, pass under once more, and repeat the same procedure 1 inch lower. Repeat until finished. Cut the excess twine and secure the knot.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat the stock to just simmering. In a spouted measuring cup, ladle 1 cup of the stock over the dried porcini and let soak 5 minutes. Keep the rest of the stock simmering.

In a large Dutch oven heat the oil over medium heat. Season the beef all over with 1 teaspoon salt. Brown the beef all over, about 8 minutes, then remove.

In a food processor, combine the pancetta, the coarsely chopped onion, and the carrot. Process to make a smooth paste or pestata. Scrape the pestata into the pot once the beef has been removed, and cook until the fat is rendered, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, rosemary, and sage. Clear a space in the pan, and add the tomato paste. Cook and stir the tomato paste in that spot until it is toasted and darkens a shade or two, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, stir the tomato paste into it, and pour in the porcini and stock, leaving any grit from soaking in the bottom of the cup. Season with the remaining teaspoon salt. Add 3 cups hot stock, and put the roast in the pan. Cover, and bake 1½ hours.

After 1½ hours, add the remaining 2 cups stock, the rutabagas or turnips, and the 2 onions cut into chunks. Cover the pot, and continue to bake until the meat and vegetables are very tender, about 1 to 1½ hours more.

Remove the meat to a cutting board, and remove the strings. Discard the bay leaves and herb sprigs from the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce to your liking, and season with salt if necessary. Thinly slice the meat against the grain, return it to the sauce to moisten it, and serve.

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