This Italian recipe features the classic pairing of red wine with beef. A juicy stewing cut, such as chuck or top round, is slowly roasted in the casserole pot with wine and a few seasonings until tender. The added vegetables make this a complete meal. The flavor only gets better with time, so cook ahead, if you prefer, and store up to three days in the refrigerator before serving.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 cup (1/4-inch) cubed pancetta (about 4 ounces)
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 cups Chianti
1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
3 sprigs fresh basil
3 sprigs fresh marjoram
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, peeled and diagonally cut into (3/8-inch-thick) slices (about 12 ounces)
6 parsnips, peeled and diagonally cut into (3/8-inch-thick) slices (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 300°.
Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cinnamon, and cloves, stirring well. Make several small slits on outside of roast with a paring knife; stuff with pancetta and garlic slices. Roll roast; secure at 1-inch intervals with twine. Sprinkle roast with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Coat surface of roast with flour mixture, patting with your hands so it adheres.
Heat oil and butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add roast to pan; cook 15 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add onion to pan around roast; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in wine and broth. Place basil, marjoram, and bay leaf on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag to pan; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours, turning roast every 45 minutes. Nestle carrots and parsnips in pan; cook 1 hour or until roast is tender enough to cut with a spoon.
Transfer roast and vegetables to a platter. Discard twine; keep beef warm. Strain wine mixture through a sieve into a large bowl; discard cheesecloth bag. Return wine mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes. Combine 1/4 cup water and cornstarch in small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired.
Wine note: Pinot noir is a nice match for this classic casserole because the dish incorporates many flavors found in pinot (cinnamon, cloves, meat, black pepper, bay), plus the wine's hint of cherry is a sumptuous contrast to the savoriness of all those slow-cooked beefy flavors. A favorite pinot: Cambria "Julia's Vineyard" Pinot Noir 2006 ($24) from California's Santa Maria Valley. —Karen MacNeil