From the Kitchen of Dean Cacciatore
Italian Post Roast
Yields 4 servings
This is a recipe similar to what my grandmother used to make in the late fall/winter months. She was very persistent on using only the best ingredients including the wine in the roast gravy. She said if was not good enough to drink with the dinner, than it was not good enough to cook in the dinner.
For the Herb Bag:
- One 5-inch sprig fresh thyme
- 5 fresh Italian, flat leafed parsley stems
- 2 dried bay leaves or 1 fresh bay leaf
- One 5-inch sprig fresh rosemary
- 2 whole garlic cloves, crushed
For the Pot Roast:
- One 2-pound piece shoulder of beef, bottom round, or pot roast
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour for dusting
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup coarsely chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped onion (1 medium-size onion)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped carrot (1 medium-size carrot)
- 1 bottle (750ml) dry red wine, preferably Barolo
- 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms, coarsely chopped and soaked in 1 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups canned crushed plum tomatoes
- Chicken broth or water as needed
- 2 tablespoons arrowroot OR cornstarch
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
Herb Bag: Combine all the ingredients in the center of a piece of cheesecloth that is large enough to hold the herb sprigs, and tie in a bundle with butcher’s string.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Season the beef with salt and pepper, then lightly dust with flour. Melt the butter in a large (6-quart) flameproof casserole set over medium-high heat. When it is foaming, add the beef and brown it on all sides, 5 minutes. Add the celery, onions, carrot, and herb bag. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften slightly, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the bottle of wine. Cook until the wine begins to boil, about 2 more minutes, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface.
- Strain the porcini mushrooms through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving the liquid. Rinse the mushrooms under cold running water to remove any grit, and add them to the casserole along with the strained mushroom liquid, tomato paste, and tomatoes. The liquid should just cover the meat. If it does not, add chicken broth or water. Cover the casserole and bake it in the oven until the meat is cooked through and tender, about 2 hours. Remove the meat from the casserole to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and set aside.
- Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the vegetables and herb bag. Pour the broth back into the casserole and set it over high heat. Bring to a boil and add the arrowroot and the 1/4 cup wine. Cook to reduce and thicken the liquid, about 5 minutes. Carve the meat into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Serve immediately, spooning some of the broth over each portion.
The roast goes perfect with either mashed potatoes or rice. If there is any leftover, shred up the remaining meat and serve over pasta.