I scoff at air freshener commercials. Instead spraying my home with an aerosol chemical that smells like apples and cinnamon I buy apples and bake. Instead of purchasing a scented oil dispensing device that sucks energy from my wall outlet, I purchase a relatively inexpensive cut of meat and a $5 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and let it simmer in my crock pot. In air freshener television advertisements, guests walk into homes, inhale deeply and nod approvingly. In my house, people step through the door and shout, “Oh, my God, what are you making? That smells amazing!”
Right now, my house smells amazing because…
Brasato al Barolo or Beef Braised in Red Wine
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 (3-to-3 1/2 lb) boneless beef chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 lb sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves
4 (4 to 6 inch) sprigs fresh thyme
2 (6 to 8 inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups Barolo (though expensive) or instead other full bodied red wine such as Ripasso Valpolicellla, Gigondas, or Cote du Rhone
2 cups water
Heat oil in pot over moderately high heat
Pat meat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown meat in hot oil on all sides about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Add pancetta to oil in pot and saute over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until browned and fat is rendered, about 3 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and browned, about 10-12 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and rosemary and saute, stirring, until garlic begins to soften and turn golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until liquid is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add water and bring to a simmer. Put meat and any juices and wine mixture to crock pot and simmer over low temperature 4-6 hours.
Transfer meat to a cutting board and slice against the grain. Skim fat from surface of sauce and remove herb stems. Boil sauce in pan until reduced by a third, about 5 minutes. Serve with meat over noodle or polenta.