STRACOTTO AL BAROLO (from Piedmont, beef braised in red wine, for six)
4 pounds boneless beef roast, preferably chuck
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons onion chopped very fine
3 tablespoons carrot chopped very fine
2 tablespoons celery chopped very fine
1-1/2 cups dry red wine (preferably Barolo, both in the pot and in your glass, but if a substitution is necessary, first choice would be another Piedmontese wine like a Barbaresco or a Barbera, and second choice would be a Rhone wine, California Syrah, Zinfandel or Shiraz)
1 cup or more homemade beef stock or ½ cup canned beef broth plus ½ cup or more of water
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped canned imported Italian plum tomatoes
a pinch of dried thyme
¼ teaspoon fresh marjoram or 1/8 teaspoon dried
freshly ground black pepper
1.Preheat oven to 350*.
2. Put in just enough vegetable oil in a skillet, tilting the pan in several directions, to coat the bottom well. Turn the heat on to high and when the oil is hot enough that a slight haze forms over it, slip in the meat. Brown it well all over, then transfer it to a platter and set aside. Set the skillet aside for later use, without cleaning it.
3. Choose a pot with a tight-fitting lid just large enough to accommodate the meat later. Put in 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the butter and the onion, turn on the heat to medium, and cook the onion until it becomes colored a pale gold. Add the carrot and celery. Stir thoroughly to coat well, cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then put in the browned meat.
4. Pour the wine into the skillet in which the meat was browned, turn on the heat to medium high, and allow the wine to bubble briskly for a minute or less, while scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen cooking residues stuck to the bottom and sides. Add the contents of the skillet to the pot with the meat.
5. Add the homemade broth or the diluted canned broth to the pot. It should come two-thirds of the way up the sides of the meat, but if it doesn’t. add more homemade broth or water. Add the tomatoes, thyme, marjoram, salt and several grindings of pepper. Turn the heat on to high, bring the contents of the pot to a boil, then cover the pot and put it on the middle rack of the preheated oven. Cook for about 3 hours, turning the meat every 20 minutes or so, basting it with the liquid in the pot, which should be cooking at a slow, steady simmer. If it is not simmering, turn up the oven thermostat. On occasion it may happen that all the liquid in the pot has evaporated or been absorbed before the meat is done. If this should occur, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water. Cook until the meat feels very tender when prodded with a fork.
6. Remove the meat to a cutting board. If the liquid in the pot should be too thin and it has not been reduced to less than 2/3 cup, put the pot on a burner, turn the heat on to high, and boil down the juices, while scraping up any cooking residues stuck to the pot. Taste the juices and correct for salt and pepper. Slice the meat, put the slices on a warm platter, arranging them so they overlap slightly, pour the juices over them and serve at once.
from Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking