Roast beef, mashed potatoes, a smattering a root vegetables. Sounds like something in an American diner right? But, if you think about it, the Italians and French (especially in the north) eat red meat, and they prepare roast beef just like we Americans do, except they tend to cook with wine from their areas. In this case, Marcella is taking her inspiration here from the Piedmont Region of Italy, Stracotto al Barolo.
I’ll admit that it is not difficult to make a pot roast, but this is a 10 in comfort food.
I am so passionate about inspiring people to cook in their own kitchens instead of eating at the hands of take-out and restaurants that a biggest part of my zest is finding dishes you and I can cook at home, yet feel we have been treated out.
I invited neighbors over to enjoy this dinner. Steve travels and eats extensively in nice restaurants. His comments were “this tasted like a great meal out in a nice restaurant.” As it should be, and this is what we can experience frequently if only we know how.
The how of home cooking is simplicity. Home recipes should be understated yet delicious enough that you will return to them again and again.
Marcella did not fail on this recipe. Of course, the base is always the same, the onion, celery, carrot, chopped very finely as they become a part of the sauce. Please take caution when using wine and oil, as I had a little in-pot fire with one of the roasts. I had put the lid on to let the alcohol burn down. Bad idea, as when I took the lid off, a big whoosh of flame erupted. Cast Iron Enamel pots are the best friends in my kitchen for numerous reasons, but they are not to be taken for granted.
Cooking with Cast Iron Enameled Pots and a Little Caution
- Of course always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Some of these will include:
- Do not rapidly alter temperature, taking a pot from cold to hot or hot to cold. They can crack.
- The pots heat up and RETAIN their heat, which is why they are called dutch ovens. They actually can get so hot, that when you open your oven, you will feel a big whoosh of heat. Always stand back.
- Do not use high heat. Even when a recipe calls for high heat, proceed with caution, using medium heat. Once on the stove, even the smallest flame can be enough to keep a continued simmer.
- Use Pot holders. This may seem like a given, but even the knobs of the lids will be very hot.
The pots you see above are a 7 quart and a 4 quart, which work perfectly for my needs. I am either cooking for two or for a crowd.
The Cooking Process
Start with good meat. I used two chuck roasts and cooked in two different enameled cast iron pans. During the last hour, I put the two together in one pot.
These are browned and ready to be braised in red wine to get that fork tender texture. I make my own beef broth and keep it frozen until I need it. You can use store bought, but get the best you can.
What to do with the Roast Beef Leftovers
You have to make this beef macaroni soup. It has kale, white beans, and meat broth to warm and fill you.
Major comfort food goodness all baked in a beef pie found at my favorite roast beef left over recipes.
- Vegetable oil
- 4 pounds boneless beef roast, preferably chuck
- 1 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
- 1½ cups dry red wine (see notes)
- 1 cup or more of beef stock or ½ cup canned with ½ cup water
- 1½ tablespoons chopped canned imported Italian plum tomatoes
- Pinch of dried thyme (I used fresh)
- 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram or ¼ teaspoons dried
- black pepper freshly ground
- Mashed Potatoes Bolognese Style
- 8 large red potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks (about 8 pieces per large potato)
- 4 -6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup warmed milk (you may not use it all)
- sea salt
- white pepper
- ⅓ cup to ½ cup parmigiano-regianno
- Preheat oven to 350
- I used a cast iron dutch oven for one pot cooking. If you don’t have a pot that goes into oven with a lid, you can cook this on top of the stove on a low simmer for 3-4 hours or (slow cooker) for several hours.
- Using an enameled-cast iron dutch oven or skillet, brown meat in vegetable oil on high on all sides. Set aside. If you using cast iron dutch oven, remove meat with tongs to another plate.
- Add vegetable oil, butter and onions, until softened. Add in celery, carrots.
- Add in wine, cook off alcohol for about 5 minutes. Add broth, meat, tomatoes, thyme, marjoram, salt, pepper.
- Oven method: Make sure the liquid comes up about ¾ of the way. Marcella suggests turning meat over every 20 minutes. I used cast iron pan that has a self basting lid and only turned the roast every 40 minutes. Roast in 350 degree oven to make sure
- Top of the stove: Keep lid on, cook on a simmer for 3-4 hours, turning several times.
- Slow Cooker: Completely submerge in liquid (adding more broth/water if necessary) and cook for several hours, 6-8.
- If roast is over 4 pounds, double all the ingredients, and be sure to use a pan that fits the roast. Too large of a pan will spread the liquid out to much.
- Wine Notes:
- Barolo wine at my wine store starts at $46. Other suggestions included Barbaresco, Barbera, Syrah (from California or Australia) or Zinfandel. I chose Zinfandel for the cooking and drinking with this dish.
- It is critical to use a decent wine in this dish. I made a six-pound roast and used the whole bottle, doubling all the ingredients. Use a freshly opened bottle; your dish will only be as good as the wine you use.
- Prep potatoes once roast is in oven. They can sit in a pan of cold water until ready to use. Rinse well, start again in cold, salted water, put on stove. Mashed potatoes should be fluffy, not creamy, so as soon as potatoes are fork tender, drain water, and mash with a fork or masher. Do not use an electric mixer, as this changes the chemistry of the potatoes, too often turning them gummy. To guarantee no lumps, use a ricer. You can use a regular dinner fork and mash, adding butter. Slowly add warmed milk, using just enough to make fluffy. Too much milk will also make potatoes too gooey and not substantial enough for this roast. Season with salt and pepper and optionally, parmigianno-regiano cheese, freshly grated.
- I made potatoes both with and without cheese and nutmeg and liked both versions for this roast.