It all started with a bottle of wine — well, two to be exact. A good friend of my husband’s — who owns an extensive wine cellar — sent us a surprise gift of two bottles of Brunello di Montalcino. He knew we had been in Montalcino a couple of years ago, where we had enjoyed wines from the Caparzo vineyard, so he wanted to repay some hospitality with a bottle of the 2013 and the 1990 vintage. We couldn’t wait to crack open the older vintage first. But I knew I needed to accompany it with a meal worthy of this 30 year-old wine. I had some dried porcini mushrooms I had bought in Italy waiting to be used, so I decided to incorporate them into a rich pot roast.
Start by dusting the meat (mine was a chuck roast that weighed 2 1/2 pounds) with flour, salt and pepper, and browning it in olive oil. Then remove it from the pan.
Add the onions and sauté them in the oil that remains in the pan. They’ll add a sweetness and richness to the dish. While the onions were cooking, I soaked the porcini in water.
The onions reduced considerably and turned a golden color. Those browned bits on the bottom of the pan will add lots of flavor too, once the liquid is poured in and everything has a chance to blend together.
Place the browned meat back into the pan and add the liquids, plus the seasonings — bay leaf, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.
Place a lid on the pot and put it in a preheated 350 degree oven. Let it cook for two hours, checking it every once in a while.
Remove the meat from the liquid. If you have time to let it cool, let it sit for a half hour. It’s not necessary, but it makes it easier to slice. If you want, you can place the platter in the microwave to reheat it, then add the hot porcini and onion sauce to ensure it’s piping hot when served.
Sprinkle with some minced parsley and serve more sauce on the side.
We drank the wine with our pot roast dinner, accompanied by sweet and sour cabbage, mashed potatoes and carrots. I think we did the 1990 vintage justice. Now onto the 2013!
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- 1 2½-3 pound chuck roast, dusted with flour, salt and pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1½ large onions, sliced (about 3 cups sliced onions)
- 3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
- ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1½ cups water for about ½ hour
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup red wine
- a few fresh bay leaves (use dried if fresh unavailable)
- 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
- salt, pepper
- In a heavy Dutch oven, add the olive oil and bring to a medium to high heat.
- Dust some flour, salt and pepper on all sides of the chuck roast, shaking off any excess.
- Place the meat into the pan with the olive oil and brown all around.
- Remove the meat to a platter.
- Turn the heat lower and add the sliced onions, cooking them until they caramelize.
- Add the crushed garlic and cook for a minute or two, then return the meat to the pan.
- Add the red wine, beef broth, the mushrooms and the liquid from the mushrooms.
- Add the bay leaves, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper.
- Place a lid on the pan, then place it on the middle rack of a 350 degree preheated oven for two hours, checking every once in a while to make sure the meat is immersed in liquid.
- After removing the pan from the oven, gently take the meat out of the pan and onto a platter.
- This step is not necessary, but it makes for easier slicing, especially if the meat has rested at least a half hour.
- Reheat the sauce to make sure it's piping hot, then pour some of the porcinis and sauce over the meat and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.
- Sprinkle with a little minced parsley for garnish.