When the temperature dips to 5 degrees fahrenheit and snow blankets the ground like a down comforter, many of us seek solace in the kitchen with winter comfort foods. Foods that we wouldn’t dream of cooking in July seem perfect for combatting January’s frigid days – foods like this pot roast from Domenica Marchetti’s book, “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.”
This one comes from Domenica’s mother Gabriella, a delightful woman who contributed much to Domenica’s love of cooking and the food of Abruzzo in particular. It’s a recipe that evokes Domenica’s childhood and turned the humble dish into a special occasion meal. Last night, as snow fell and the landscape turned white, I decided I needed a special occasion meal too.
I hadn’t made a pot roast in years and picked up this large chuck roast at the supermarket earlier in the day. If you buy a piece with heavy veins of fat, as this one, you could carve some of it out before cooking, or do as I did and skim the fat from the liquid once it finishes cooking.
Season the meat with salt and pepper, then sear it on all sides, a process that takes four to five minutes.
The vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes) and seasonings are added to the pot, along with some wine and broth, then the oven does the work for the next two and a half hours.
What emerges is a flavorful, cut-it-with-a-fork tender pot roast that will leave you wishing for even more snowy days when you can hunker indoors with a hearty meal.
Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles, polenta or whatever starch you prefer. My side dishes were farro with peas, and steamed butternut squash. The sauce from the roast is still quite chunky, but you could puree it with a stick blender if you prefer a smoother version. Consider setting some aside and adding it to some freshly cooked pasta as a first course.
Stracotto di Manzo Alla Gabriella
From “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy”
by Domenica Marchetti
printable recipe here
- 1 boneless chuck roast, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
- Kosher or sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup passato di pomodoro (tomato puree) or canned chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth (homemade is best), or water
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. In ad Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle place the roast in the pot. Brown it on all sides, turning it every 3 to 4 minutes, for even coloring. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is pale gold but not browned. Stir in the thyme, followed by the wine, tomatoes, and the broth. Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Let the pot roast braise, turning the meat every 30 minutes, for about 2 1/2 hours or until it is fork tender and the sauce is deliciously thick and red-brown.
Remove the meat from the sauce and either cut it into thin slices or large chunks. Arrange the meat on a serving platter and spoon the sauce on top.