Known as “the wine of kings,” Barolo, with its dry, full-bodied flavor, makes the perfect braise for a beef roast. This would make an excellent entrée for any occasion, especially during the fall and winter months.
Don’t skip tying the roast—it keeps the roast intact during the long cooking time. Purchase pancetta that is cut to order, about ¼ inch thick. If pancetta is not available, substitute an equal amount of salt pork (find the meatiest piece possible), cut it into ¼-inch cubes, and boil it in 3 cups of water for about 2 minutes to remove excess salt. After draining, use it as you would pancetta. This braise can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; complete the recipe through step 2. When you’re ready to serve, skim off the fat congealed on the surface and gently warm until the meat is heated through. Continue with the recipe from step 3.
1 boneless chuck-eye roast (about 3 1/2 pounds)
Salt and ground black pepper
4 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch cubes (see note)
2 medium onions, chopped medium
2 medium carrots, chopped medium
2 medium celery ribs, chopped medium
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 (750-milliliter) bottle Barolo wine
1 (1 4.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 sprig fresh thyme plus
1 teaspoon minced leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
10 sprigs fresh parsley
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 300 degrees. Pull the roast apart at its major seams (delineated by lines of fat) into two halves. Use a knife as necessary. With the knife, remove the large knobs of fat from each piece, leaving a thin layer of fat on the meat. Tie three pieces of kitchen twine around each piece of meat. Thoroughly pat the beef dry with paper towels; sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place the pancetta in an 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel–lined plate and reserve. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat; set the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat the fat until beginning to smoke. Add the beef to the pot and cook until well browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer the beef to a large plate; set aside.
2. Reduce the heat to medium; add the onions, carrots, celery, and tomato paste to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and brown, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, sugar, flour, and reserved pancetta; cook, stirring constantly, until combined and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits; add the thyme sprig, rosemary, and parsley. Return the roast and any accumulated juices to the pot; increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil, then place a large sheet of foil over the pot and cover tightly with the lid. Set the pot in the oven and cook, using tongs to turn the beef every 45 minutes, until a dinner fork easily slips in and out of the meat, about 3 hours.
3. Transfer the beef to a cutting board; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow the braising liquid to settle about 5 minutes then, using a wide shallow spoon, skim the fat off the surface. Add the minced thyme, bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and cook, whisking vigorously to help the vegetables break down, until the mixture is thickened and reduced to about 3 1/2 cups, about 18 minutes. Strain the liquid through a large fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have 1 1/2 cups strained sauce (if necessary, return the strained sauce to the Dutch oven and reduce to 1 1/2 cups). Discard the solids in the strainer. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper. 4. Remove the kitchen twine from the meat and discard. Using a chef’s knife or carving knife, cut the meat against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Divide the meat between warmed bowls or plates; pour about 1/4 cup sauce over each portion and serve immediately.