Sunday, October 20, 2013
Italian pot roast
I'm turning off my phone today. Not gonna check email either. My friend Joe would give me nothing but grief over the title of this post. I can hear him already.
"Italian pot roast? Really?" he would say (or type). If I let him, that is.
"If you're going to keep insisting that everything you put on Mister Meatball is Italian, a concept you know full well I do not agree with, then you can at least refer to the foods with their proper names, rather than trying to Americanize them so as to, what, be more reader-friendly?"
There is no telling how long my friend would go on like this, possibly the better part of the afternoon, but in the end he would undoubtedly complete his rant with the following:
"But, hey, it's your blog, do what you want."
Okay, Joe, here goes: I made some Stracotto di manzo (overcooked beef) this past week. But you may know it as Brasato di manzo (braised beef). Here in the States most recipes that you see for this just call it "Italian pot roast" because, well, that's what it is. So get off my back, would you. And give my love to Joel.
Okay, where was I? So, this is a 4.5-pound boneless chuck roast, which I've seasonsed very liberally with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
In a dutch oven sear the roast on all sides in olive oil, then remove and set aside.
Add two chopped carrots, two celery stalks, one leek, an onion, 5 garlic cloves, 4 anchovy fillets (optional), and some herbs (rosemary, marjoram and oregano here, but knock yourself out with whatever you like). Saute until softened.
Add about a cup of red wine (I used a Nero d'Avola, and you'll need an entire 750 ml bottle) and turn up the heat.
Cook off the wine so that it begins to thicken, then scrape the pot all around with a wooden spoon to loosen any vegetables that may have stuck to the pan's surface.
Add the rest of the bottle of wine, a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, a bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Cover the pot and turn the heat to a very slow simmer, not a boil. Every 20 minutes or so turn the meat over, or at the very least baste it frequently.
This roast simmered for nearly five hours, but I'd suggest that you start checking the meat for tenderness at the 3.5-hour mark. Just poke at it with a fork; when the meat feels tender you should be all set. After this roast was done cooking I allowed it to cool in the pot, then put the whole thing in the fridge overnight and served it for dinner the next evening. I strongly urge that you do this, as the flavor improves enough, I think, to make a difference.
After you reheat simply take the meat out and carve it.
I served this with a creamy polenta. Which, as my friend Joe will tell you, is a dish that is strongly associated with Italian cuisine.