“This isn’t your everyday pot roast,” my father declared as we sat down for dinner to enjoy the roast that he had been cooking all afternoon. No, indeed it isn’t. The sauce includes an entire bottle of bold red Zinfandel wine. The vegetables in the sauce are cooked until every ounce of flavor is extracted from them, and then the sauce is pressed through a sieve and reduced even further. The beef, braised for hours is fork tender. Enjoy.
Beef Roast Braised in Zinfandel Recipe
• 1 (3 1/2 pound) chuck roast, boneless
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
• 2 medium onions, chopped medium (about 2 cups)
• 2 medium carrots, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
• 2 ribs celery, chopped medium (1 cup)
• 1 Tbsp tomato paste
• 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
• 1 (750 ml) bottle Zinfandel wine (can substitute Cabernet Sauvignon)
• 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
• 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
• 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 If your roast is very fatty, trim some of the fat. But it is important to keep some fat, as this will keep the roast moist while braising. In many supermarkets chuck roasts will already be properly trimmed. Salt the roast well and set aside at room temperature while you prepare all the other vegetables.
2 Pour a little water into a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot. Set the pot over medium heat and add the diced pancetta. As soon as the water begins to simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and slowly crisp up the pancetta; the water allows some of the fat in the pork to render out without charring the pancetta. When the pancetta is crispy and brown, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Pat the beef roast dry with a paper towel, increase the heat to medium and brown all sides in the pot. Once the meat has browned remove it to a bowl and add the onions, carrot and celery. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables while they cook. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
4 Add the tomato paste and stir well, sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes, the pancetta, herbs and red wine. Nestle the beef roast into the pot, cover, place in the 300°F oven and cook for 3 hours. At the halfway point, use tongs to turn the beef roast over.
5 Remove the pot from oven and transfer beef to a large bowl; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow the liquid to settle in the pot for a few minutes, if you’d like, skim off some of the fat with a wide shallow spoon. If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the contents of the pot. If you don’t, use a whisk to help break down the vegetables. Boil the sauce until it is reduced to about 3 1/2 cups. Strain liquid through large fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids with spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have a couple cups strained sauce. Add any accumulated juices from the bowl you have the beef in. Boil the sauce again until it has reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
6 Cut the meat into roughly 1/2-inch-thick slices and pour the sauce over them. Serve with a bold red wine and crusty bread or mashed potatoes.
Yield: Serves 6.