Fiesty hurricane Sandy is on it’s way for a direct hit near my house! A hurricane – in Pennsylvania of all places! My feisty friend is bearing down, taking her good ole’ time whipping up waves and foam about 150 miles offshore but she is expected to arrive over the next 24 hours – so we have battened down the hatches, stocked the pantry, charged our batteries and made the essential stop at the wine shop! We are as ready as we can be! I worry more for my friends near the sea (please keep them safe!). Our biggest threat is the winds which are already tossing leaves and branches to and fro – away we go! And when life gives you a hurricane, time to make some warming, comforting Stracotto – Italy’s take on pot roast doused with a good measure of Chianti. I have had this dish on many occasions in Italy – those chilly nights when the comfort of a warming hearty meal is required eating. I whipped up a big batch last evening to have on hand as Sandy comes to visit. This is one of my favorite dishes for these times – a true hug for our jittery nerves. And if the power goes out, my stracotto will be served via candlelight alongside that comforting bottle of vino I have at the ready! And for all my friends in Sandy’s path – stay safe and warm!
Stracotto al Chianti (Pot-roast Italian Style)
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary, needles stripped and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
About 2 pounds of beef for pot roast (like chuck roast)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1 bay leaf
2 cup of Chianti wine
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
About 1/2 cup of beef broth (or more wine)
About 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
1. Stir together the rosemary and garlic. Tuck into any areas that you can in the beef. If needed, make little slits in the beef and tuck into the slits. Season the meat all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Cover the bottom of a large saucepan or dutch oven with olive oil. Heat over medium heat. When hot, add the meat and quickly sauté on both sides until browned. Remove from pot and set aside.
3. Add the onions, carrots, celery and sauté until softened. Add the meat back to the pan. Add the bay leaf. Pour the wine over the meat. Allow it to come to a boil and reduce slightly for a few minutes. Add in the chopped tomatoes and the broth. It should cover the top of the meat. If not, add in more wine, broth or water. Add in the whole peppercorns.
4. Cover and turn heat to low. Allow to simmer until the meat is tender – about 2 – 2 1/2 hours.
5. When meat is tender, remove from pan. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings. Slice the meat and put back into the pot.
6. Serve! Buon appetito!