Brasato al Barolo
— beef braised in Barolo
Cooking with wine
I have long maintained that, yes, it really is worthwhile
using good - and even great - wine to cook with. The same elements
that make a wine great to drink - concentration, complexity, structure
- most definitely can come through in the finished dish. And of
course, drinking the same wine alongside that dish inevitably results
in the best food and wine match you can produce (provided that you
start out with good or great wine in the first place).
When our Club Vino group visited Barolo,
we had the rare treat to enjoy Mario's mother Elda's classic Brasato
al Barolo, beef braised in Barolo. This is something that you usually
only sample in a winemaker's home, where the 'vino della casa' just
happens to be that king of wines.
Would I open a bottle of Barolo to cook
with? Yes, I would, and I have. Given that many keen home cooks
go to great effort to source the finest and best ingredients to
cook with, there is really no reason why not. And as we know from
Mario's meal, the result really is superlative.
At any rate, and at the request of CV
member Roger, who is a great intenditore of Mario's Cascina
Fontana Barolos, I include here Mario's mother's recipe for Brasato
al Barolo (this recipe, I can confirm, is also sensational made
with and accompanied by Cascina Fontana Barbera, in which case it
becomes Brasato al Barbera).
Brasato al Barolo
2 kg piece of best topside beef (from
Arthur's or Gerald David)
1 bottle of Barolo
4 carrots, sliced
2 onions, chopped
3 legs of celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
Small bunch of fresh rosemary
1 red pepper, cored and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Put the meat in a large bowl with half bottle Barolo wine, garlic,
bay leaf, rosemary, a splash of good olive oil, and salt and pepper.
Allow to marinate overnight. **see
Remove the meat, and pat dry with kitchen
towel. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat olive
oil and butter in a large casserole, and brown the meat all over.
Add the chopped vegetables and cook until soft. Add the Barolo wine
marinade, bring to the boil, then reduce flame to very low, cover
and gently braise for around 2 hours. Check from time to time, and
add the remaining Barolo wine (less the obligatory glass or two
that is the cook's perk), topping up with a little meat broth if
Once cooked - the meat should be tender,
but not falling apart- remove the meat and allow to cool. Defat
the cooking liquid, and liquidize to incorporate the vegetables.
Reduce to a sauce consistency and adjust seasoning. Meanwhile, cut
the beef into thickish slices. Before serving, add the sliced meat
into the casserole, cover with wine cooking sauce, and gently reheat.
Serve a slice of meat, bathed in the delicious Barolo sauce.
Brasato al Barolo should be accompanied
by carrots cooked in butter, mashed potato, or polenta.
Wine suggestion: what
else but Barolo! Nothing else will do.
Nello's trick, when cooking Brasato al Barolo, was to insert a long
carving knife all the way through the middle of the joint of beef.
Into this slot, he'd push a carrot or two and possibly a leg of
celery. The vegetables not only flavour the meat from inside, but
the slot also allows the wine marinade to penetrate more fully.
When you serve the beef, the vegetables are in the middle of each