The cuisine of the Langhe area in the province of Cuneo features many of the staples of the Piedmont region – rich meat dishes, polenta and risotto in many forms and cheeses. The wine pairings are always key, but are also used in the preparation of dishes. In the case of Barolo, the complexity of the wine creates unique and elegant dishes, satisfying the discerning palate on numerous levels.
Brasato al Barolo
Beef braised in Barolo is famous throughout the world. The Barolo wine gives the beef its characteristic aroma and in the 19th century was literally a meal fit for a king. The beef will become fork tender.
5 pound boneless beef shoulder
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
2 carrots large, peeled, cut into 2” pieces
4 stalks celery cut into 2” pieces (with leaves)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 sage leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 bottles Barolo wine 750 milliliters each (Find an inexpensive bottle @ $25)
1-2 cups beef stock, as needed
black pepper freshly ground
Preheat the oven to 250° F. Season the roast with half the salt. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides in the Dutch oven, then remove it to a platter. In the Dutch oven, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the rosemary, sage leaves, peppercorns, dried porcini and the remaining teaspoon of salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes to soften the vegetables, then reduce the heat. Push the vegetables to the side and return the roast to the pan. Pour in the bottles of wine and any meat juices that have collected on the platter. The roast should be at least half submerged. When the roast goes below half submerged add come beef stock.
Cover the pot and heat until the wine is steaming, but not boiling. Uncover the pan and place it in the oven. After 30 minutes, turn the roast so the exposed meat is submerged in the braising liquid. Braise and turn the meat every 30 minutes, until the meat is fork-tender (2 ½ – 3 hours). The liquid should not be allowed to boil; if it does, pour in some cold water to stop the bubbling and lower the oven temperature.
After about 2½ hours or so, check the beef. If it is easily pierced with a fork, take the pan from the oven. Remove the meat to a platter then heat the sauce to a boil. Reduce until the sauce thickens (it should be thick enough to coat a spoon). Pour the sauce through a sieve over a container and press the juices the juices out. Pour in any juices from the meat platter and season the sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow the meat to rest and cool for at least 30 minutes. Slice the meat crosswise. Pour a shallow layer of sauce into a wide skillet and lay the slices in, overlapping them. Heat the sauce to bubbling, spooning it over the beef so the slices are lightly coated. Lift them with a broad spatula and slide them onto a warm platter, fanned out and arrange the vegetables. Serving suggestion – lay the beef slices over mashed potatoes to serve this elegant dish.
This special pasta is made with durum wheat semolina with the addition of Barolo wine. The pasta has an unmistakable taste and delicate shade from Barolo wine. Paired with a mushroom sauce, it makes a delightful second course.
½ cup dried Porcini mushrooms, chopped coarsely
extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cups of fresh mushrooms
24 oz peeled Italian tomatoes (canned)
1/2 cup water, from the Porcini water after they soak
1 lb Tjarine pasta (substitute Tagliatelle)
salt and pepper
Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
Soak the dried mushrooms in lukewarm water for an hour then drain. Squeeze the mushrooms lightly to send away excess water. On medium flame, in a sauté pan, cook the onion in extra virgin olive oil. When the onion turns golden, add all the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, tomato, water and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sauce to come to a gentle boil and then simmer for at least 40 minutes on low flame. Boil water for the pasta; add healthy handful of salt and cook until al dente. Add the pasta to the sauce and mix. Sprinkle with parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano. Save some sauce for those who like extra.