Beef braised in Barolo is a classic Italian recipe and one of my favorites! The tender beef and the rich sauce infused with red wine is all cooked low and slow so my house smells amazing. This is one of the reasons I love colder weather. It’s time to turn on the oven and make dinner!
I’m going to start this right off with the question I know is in your mind:
Do you need to use a Barolo to make beef in Barolo?
If you want to be completely authentic, yes. Yes, you do.
But, you say, it’s so expensive! Yes, yes it is.
For people who want to be authentic and can drop $40+ on a bottle of wine for stew, go for it and buy some Barolo. The rest of us will swing by the Italian aisle in the wine shop and snag a bottle of Nebbiolo for about $15. Much better!
But now you have another question:
What is Nebbiolo??
Nebbiolo is the grape used in Barolo and Barbaresco wines and is produced in the same region of Italy – Piedmont. It is often even made by the same wineries! It’s just the grapes come from the less desirable slopes or from outside of the designated Barolo or Barbaresco growing areas. To my mind, Nebbiolo is one of the best values in Italian wines and one of my favorite ‘everyday’ wines.
So, there you have it. Buy Barolo for the stew if you want to and can afford it. However, buying Nebbiolo will produce a near authentic dish for a fraction of the price and give you plenty of deep, rich flavors.
Now that the 40-60 (or more) dollar question has been put to rest, let’s talk about the stew!
I first made this recipe early in my marriage (let’s see, we just celebrated 21 years, so maybe 15 or 16 years ago, time flies!), when I was looking for something a bit different from my usual beef stew and wanted an Italian theme. I don’t remember which recipe I used, since of course I didn’t write it down, but the basics were simple and easy to remember:
- beef roast suitable for stewing
- a good Italian red (and no I didn’t use Barolo then either)
- a few root vegetables
- aromatics and herbs
- and something (like polenta or mashed potatoes) to soak up the yummy sauce
The first question is the beef roast. There are any number of beef roasts suitable for braising and which one you choose will depend on whether you want a roast you slice and looks pretty or whether you want a roast that falls apart. I went with a chuck roast, which is clearly the type that falls apart. 🙂 I liked the homey feeling of it and how it is even better the next day, meaning you can do the work on day one and simply reheat it on day two.
We’ve taken care of the red question.
And I guess root vegetables aren’t strictly necessary. Some carrots for flavor, yes, but not enough to provide a vegetable to the meal. However, if I’m going to braise things for hours, I want meat and a vegetable! So there. Over the years, I’ve settled on a combination of carrots and parsnips since they both hold their shapes and give some sweetness to the meal.
So, there you have it: Beef Braised in
Barolo Nebbiolo. A more pocketbook friendly but still amazingly tasty Italian stew.
– Happy Braising, Annemarie
Italian Beef Braised in Barolo
- 4 oz pancetta, diced
- 3 - 3 1/2 lb chuck roast
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into wedges
- 4 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch wedges
- 2 medium parsnips, cut into 2 inch wedges
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bottle Barolo wine, or Nebbiolo wine
- 2 cups low sodium beef stock, approximately
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh sage
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- In a large, oven safe Dutch oven, brown the pancetta over medium-high heat until it is crispy and most of the fat has rendered out. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the pancetta into a bowl large enough for the roast.
- Sprinkle the roast all over with salt and then lay the roast into the pot. Brown the roast on all sides for 1-2 minutes per side. Then transfer the roast to the bowl with the pancetta.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrots, parsnips, and garlic to the pot. Saute until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the roast and pancetta back to the pot. Then add in the wine plus enough beef stock to submerge the roast half way up its side. Stir in the tomato paste and anchovy paste. Tie the thyme, rosemary, and sage with some cooking twine and add them in.
- Bring the liquid in the pot to a bubble then cover the pot and put it in the oven. Braise the roast for 4 hours.
- Transfer the roast and vegetable to a platter. Discard the herbs. Skim the fat off the top of the liquid and bring it to a rolling boil on high until it is reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Break up the roast into chunks (removing any pockets of fat you find) and add it and the vegetables back to the pot. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper and sprinkle some parsley over the top.
- Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes.
- Nebbiolo is the grape used in Barolo wine. Nebbiolo is significantly less expensive while imparting a similar flavor profile.
- You can make the roast through step 6 the day before. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for about 30 minutes and then separate the meat and vegetables from the sauce and put it all in the refrigerator to chill. This is a great way to de-fat the sauce. Once you've removed the chilled fat from the top of the sauce continue with the recipe.
- If you don't have fresh herbs, you can use 1 tsp of dried thyme along with 1/2 tsp each of dried rosemary and sage.