¼+ cup olive oil
10+ lbs boneless chuck*
Kosher Salt and Cracked Pepper to coat roast
½ bottle of Barolo or other Nebbiolo wine
2-3 medium onions, chopped
4-5 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
1 head of fresh fennel, chopped
6 Sprigs of fresh rosemary or 3 t of dried rosemary
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 cup canned plum tomatoes with juice
1 Tablespoon salt or to taste
*Have the butcher tie the roast tightly in the most compact shape possible.
1. Preheat oven to 375º
2. In a Dutch oven preheat ½ of the olive oil over medium to high heat
3. Season the meat with salt and pepper and brown it well over all sides in the Dutch oven
4. Remove the meat to a holding plate
5. In the Dutch oven add the remainder of the olive oil and add the onions and sauté. After a few minutes add the celery and carrots and fennel and when vegetables are soft add the rosemary, cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg.
6. Stir and heat together to release essence of spices. If you want to add other spices e.g. thyme or marjoram do it at this time
7. Just before adding the wine, add the minced garlic; stir it in but don’t burn it.
8. Add the wine and bring to a boil
9. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil and hold at boil for 5-10 minutes
10. Place the chuck on top of the vegetable mix and when boiling rapidly cover and place in oven.
11. After one hour reduce heat to 300º and roast for an additional 3 hours or until completely tender. With my Dutch oven I never need to add liquid. If yours is not air tight you make need to add a small amount of wine or water after each hour
12. When you are satisfied the meat is done, remove it and put on plate under tent of aluminum foil for 10 to 15 minutes and reduce the sauce on top of the stove.
13. Mash or puree the veggie mix to serve over the roast
Even before son Erik met, and courted, and married “Hanna from China” to repeat the endearing way she introduced herself when she spoke by telephone with members of his family before she had ever set foot in the USA, he had become a “foodie.”
As much as anyone I have met, Erik may rightfully claim the title foodie. He rarely makes the same dish twice and when he does it, is mostly to improve on his previous effort. In this regard, he and Hanna are a pair and daunting to dine with anywhere, not to mention China. Erik’s Da GuGu Carolyn had a firm rule when we were in China, “Don’t eat it if the fins or feathers or the head is still in place.” This was never an issue with Hanna and Erik; to them, the more adventuresome the food, the better.
I had a question for Erik but he was still analyzing the Korean Barbeque he had just cooked for us in Florida. Hanna had her points of view and I threw in a thought or two but Erik knew what his analysis yielded, “I should have sliced the meat thinner and let it marinate longer.” Fair enough, but it was pretty tasty to this observer.
When I asked Erik which recipe he thought I should include he said, “I think of your Dutch Oven.” That comment stirred memories. In 1972 newlyweds Suzanne and Nord bought their first house. It was on Lake Champlain just north of Plattsburgh NY and as they were helping the seller move she told them she didn’t know if she wanted to move her late husband’s Dutch oven. There was no haggling and she sold it with the house for an extra $5 dollars. This was one of my best buys ever. That great black monster is with me ‘til I die.
What I suspected Erik had in mind was a pair of dishes, a Provencal Pork Loin or an Italian Brasato al Barolo (just a fancy Italian name for pot roast.) These dishes are serious cuisine from food friendly countries. I decided on the spot to include the Italian dish rather than the French because every time I make it I am reminded of the trip my Dad, Erik and I made to Italy in 2001. Dad and I met Erik in Milan. We were on our way to tour the airfields near Foggia in Southern Italy where Dad, our own very special member of the “Greatest Generation” was stationed during WWII and flew over 30 missions in his B-24 Bomber. En route we stopped in the Piedmont for a visit to some of my favorite Barolo vineyards.
We stopped for “de gustioni,” (just a taste) at the vineyards of Paolo Scavino and in a heartbeat Erik had disappeared into the wine vaults with Enrica Scavino, the raven haired daughter of the vigneron.* Enrica’s Nonna (Grandmother) had made Dad his own personal espresso and, fussing over him intently, appeared to have more than a passing interest in her American visitor. Nonna wanted to know if Erik had a Nonna of his own in America. Erik re-appeared just in time to answer and fortunately, his Italian was sufficient to inform her that yes, there was not only a Nonna in the USA, but she was the jealous type. Dad got away with only a kiss on each cheek.
When I make this Brasato al Barolo for Hanna and Erik I know they prefer the fattier, more tender rib end of the chuck. A normal chuck from a supermarket weighs 14-16 lbs and they discount the price by about 1/3 when you purchase the whole cut. I have them cut it into two pieces, a 10 pounder from the large end and a 6 pounder from the rib end and tie each piece tightly with butchers twine.
*This, of course, was years before he met the even more beautiful Hanna with even blacker hair. In this preference Erik seems to be following the descendants of Nels who go generally go for the brunettes. This tendency was pointed out to me by Cousin Bruce Anton who met Suzanne, saw her jet black hair and asked about Erik’s inclination in women. Dark haired of course, same as Bruce. Nels, of course, married Caroline, a black Norwegian if I ever saw one.
Barolo by all means and a Scavino if you can find one.