Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

24 03 2011

Beef braised in barolo and served with pappardelle

As many of you know, I recently returned from a trip to Piedmont, Italy. The fantastic food and wine of the region has inspired me so I’ve been working on my own interpretation of recipes that reflect the foods of the region using ingredients that are accessible to North American cooks.

A popular dish in the Piedmont region is Brasato al Barolo, which is beef braised in Barolo wine. Unfortunately, Barolos can be quite expensive so you can easily substitute any inexpensive dry red wine, as long as it’s decent enough to drink.  I used a bottle of Cantina Terre del Barolo Barbera d’Alba 2008, which retails for $13.95 in Ontario. Luckily, the recipe only calls for two cups so you’ll have the rest of the bottle to enjoy with dinner!  I call for short ribs because they braise beautifully, resulting in a tender and flavourful dish.

To build flavour and add umami to the dish, I’ve used porcini powder.  Porcini are mushrooms that grow abundantly in Italy and are common in many Italian dishes. Unfortunately, fresh porcini are often difficult to find in North American stores because they are very perishable. However, many stores sell packages of dried porcini (I’ve seen them at gourmet stores, Italian specialty shops, some supermarkets and fruit and vegetable markets). It’s very easy to make porcini powder from dried mushrooms: just add a few to a mortar and use the pestle to grind them to a powder (if you don’t have a mortar-and-pestle, just crush them with a rolling pin or the flat side of a large knife). Extra powder can be kept in a sealed container and used in soups, stews or pasta sauces.

Porcini powder is easy to make with dried mushrooms and a mortar-and-pestle

A Note About Authenticity: Italians typically serve Brasato al Barolo with polenta instead of pasta (pasta is usually served as a separate first course).  However, egg noodles are delicious with the sauce, creating a rich and hearty main dish. Look for long, flat noodles made with eggs.  The beef will taste even better after a day or two so plan ahead and make extras!  Leftover shredded meat also makes a great filling for ravioli or agnolotti.

Pappardelle is delicious with wine-braised beef

Barolo-Braised Beef with Pappardelle

Makes about 6 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 large meaty bone-in beef short ribs, each weighing about 10 to 12 ounces (300 to 340 grams)
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) slab bacon, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups Barolo, Barbera D’Alba or other dry red wine such as Côtes du Rhône
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup espresso or very strong coffee (equals about two shots of espresso)
  • 2 teaspoons porcini powder (made from about 6 dried mushrooms, see above)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. (500 grams) pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
  • Parmesan cheese to finish
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Pat the short ribs dry with clean paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. In an enameled cast iron pot (5.5 quarts or larger) or oven proof pot with a lid, add the olive oil and heat on medium-high.
  3. Add the short ribs. Let the ribs brown, about three to four minutes per side. Turn the ribs so that all sides brown. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Add the bacon to the pot and sauté until it’s beginning to crisp. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the flour and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Pour in the wine, beef broth and coffee.
  6. Add the herbs and the porcini powder, stirring to combine. Return the browned short ribs to the pot.
  7. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pot. Put the pot into a preheated oven (350F).  Cook for two hours.
  8. Check on the ribs after two hours. Stir to ensure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  Return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  9. Check on them again after 30 minutes – the ribs should be getting very tender and almost falling off the bone. Spoon some liquid over them (you can add another 1/2 cup of stock if the sauce is getting low).  Return to the oven for another 20 to 30 minutes or until they are fork-tender and falling off the bone.
  10. Remove the pot from the oven. Use tongs to extract the ribs from the sauce. Place them in a bowl and set aside. Strain the sauce into a large sauce pan, using a large spoon to press all of the liquid through a strainer. Heat the sauce on medium-low heat.  Spoon off as much fat from the top of the sauce as possible (you can also cool the sauce overnight – the fat will harden and can easily be removed).
  11. Place the cooked ribs on a cutting board. Remove any bones, fat and connective tissues and discard. Use two fork to shred the meat. Chop the meat into bite sized pieces and return the meat to the pot of simmering sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and heat through while preparing the pasta.
  12. Cook the pappardelle or other egg noodles according to package directions (usually about 6 minutes). Drain well. Toss the pasta with the braised meat and sauce and top with shaved parmesan cheese before serving.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.



28 01 2009


A sample of ice wine at Peller Estates

A sample of icewine at Peller Estates



The expression “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” may be a bit of a cliché but when it comes to Canadians and winter weather, it’s an apt metaphor for what we do.  Except instead of lemonade, we’re making icewine.

Icewine was first made in Germany, where it is known as ‘eiswein’.  It involves leaving grapes on the vines to freeze which concentrates the sugars.  When pressed, the grapes yield a sweet, viscous nectar that is reminiscent of fruit and honey.  While Germany may lay claim to icewine’s roots, Canada has become a top producer with Canadian wineries regularly winning awards at international competitions.  To learn more about how Ontario icewines are made, visit

Each winter, the Niagara wine region in Southern Ontario holds an icewine festival and this year I had the pleasure of attending some of the events.  A number of wineries hosted special tastings with activities and entertainment.  The main street of Niagara-on-the-Lake was blocked off to make way for a number of booths featuring samples from local winemakers and small bites from area restauranteurs.  

An outdoor ice bar

An outdoor ice bar


Our day got off to a late start but it’s only a short drive to the Niagara region from Toronto (just over an hour, if traffic is good). We stopped at Flat Rock Cellars and sampled a couple of their vintages.  They were also selling icewine marshmallows for toasting over the outdoor fire and their pond had been cleared for skating but unfortunately the ice conditions were poor so no one was out.  We moved on to Peller Estates who were hosting their tastings at an outdoor ice bar.  They featured icewines made from three different grapes: cabernet franc, vidal and riesling.  Like Flat Rock, Peller was also offering icewine marshmallows on sticks for toasting over fire pits. The toasted marshmallows were certainly better than anything you can buy in a bag but they were extremely sweet!  To finish off, Chef Jason Parsons was offering his signature icewine infused white hot chocolate.  It was the perfect drink to warm up with on a cold day.

Icewine marshmallows, ready for toasting over the fire

Icewine marshmallows, ready for toasting over the fire


Finally we went into town for the main event.   At the Fallsview Casino Icewine Lounge local restaurants were offering up small plates of their fare and icewine was flowing freely.   Tokens were for sale at the entrance and samples typically cost between one and three tokens.  There was entertainment and ice sculptors were wielding their chainsaws, producing temporary works of art.  The most popular booth was the 20 Bees martini bar, which featured icewine martinis poured down an ice chute, ensuring the drinks were ice cold by the time they hit your glass (see recipe for the cocktail below).   The food offered was very hearty including pork and beans, squash soup and a Provençal duck stew. 

Icewine martinis are poured through an ice chute

Icewine martinis are poured through an ice chute


The festival is held each year and runs for two weekends.  For information on planning a trip next year, visit  It’s a unique way to experience wine country in the off-season.   A weekend of fine dining, great wine and perhaps a visit to the casino or a spa is the perfect way to chase away the mid-winter blues!



An ice sculptor at work

An ice sculptor at work


Entertainment at the festival

Entertainment at the festival


If you aren’t able to make it to the festival, you can still get into the spirit at home. Niagara icewine is available around the world (I once saw some in a wine shop in Rome), although it’s not cheap.  However, on occasion it’s an indulgent treat that’s worth the splurge.  For more icewine cocktails, click here: Peller Estates Icewine Cocktails.

Icewine Cocktail

As featured at the 20 Bees booth at the 2009 Niagara Icewine Festival

Makes 1 (strong) drink, can easily be doubled.

  • 2 ounces Skyy Vodka
  • 1 ounce 20 Bees Icewine

Chill a cocktail shaker in the freezer.  Combine a scoop of ice cubes, the vodka and icewine.  Shake well and strain into a chilled wineglass or martini glass.

An ice wine martini

An icewine martini


Icewine Jelly

This makes a great accompaniment to a cheese plate.  

Makes approximately 3/4 cup of jelly

  • 1 cup icewine
  • 1 package Certo pectin
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine icewine and pectin.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil on high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes, until jelly begins to thicken.  Pour into a container and refrigerate until jelly cools and sets, at least 1 hour.
  3. Serve with cheeses, foie gras, etc.


Ice wine jelly with Comfort Cream cheese and crackers

Icewine jelly with Comfort Cream cheese and crackers


Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

Mulled Cranberry Wine (and a Christmas rhyme!)

24 12 2008



Mulled Cranberry Wine

Makes 4 cups / 1 litre

You’ll need:

  • 750-ml bottle red wine (3 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 spice packet
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • Rind from a small orange or tangerine, cut into strips
  • For garnish: orange or tangerine slices and cinnamon sticks

Can be served warm or chilled, like a spiced sangria.  You can add a splash of club soda if serving as a sangria.


‘Tis the night before Christmas at The Seasonal Gourmet

The weather is frightful and the snow’s here to stay


What could be better to chase off the cold

Than a cup of mulled wine, with flavours so bold


In a large stockpot on medium high

Heat up a bottle of your favourite red wine


Pour in the cranberry, only a cup

And heat the whole mixture until it warms up


Toss in the spice pack and spoonfuls of sweet

And continue to simmer on medium heat


Add in the peel, from an orange rind

Or from a tangerine – whatever you find


Garnish your glass with an orange slice

And serve the drinks hot or chilled over ice


Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year

And enjoy lots of good food and holiday cheer!



Bon Appétit and Happy Holidays!


Late Summer in Wine Country

9 09 2008


I had the pleasure this past weekend of visiting my brother-in-law Dan and his wife Jenn in Belleville, Ontario, which is about a two hour drive from Toronto. The surrounding countryside of Prince Edward County (or ‘The County’, as it’s known by locals) has been getting a lot of attention over the past couple of years as an up-and-coming destination for food and wine lovers.  Despite its proximity to Toronto, it’s a world away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.  We toured the county and spent the day sampling some of the best food and wine it has to offer.  Here are some of the highlights:

Modern art and architecture at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Modern art and architecture at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese

Our first stop was Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Picton.   Established this year, Fifth Town makes artisanal cheeses from local sheep and goat’s milk.  Their aim is to be socially and environmentally sustainable and their facility is a brand new, state-of-the art LEED-certified building.  There is a small boutique where you can taste samples of their cheese and buy products and related books.   We sampled a number of their cheeses including Improv, an aged goat cheese, Counting Sheep, a mild and creamy sheep’s cheese and Operetta, a smooth and creamy goat’s cheese with a wonderful texture and mild flavour.  They were also kind enough to provide us with a sheet of tasting notes and local wine and cider pairing suggestions.  

The aging room at Fifth Town

The aging room at Fifth Town

Our next stop was County Cider Company near Waupoos.  They specialize in apple cider, apple wine and ice cider. Their apple ciders and wines are crisp and refreshing and the award-winning ice cider is the perfect accompaniment to dessert or a cheese course.  They also have a small terrace where they serve light lunches with a wonderful view of Prince Edward Bay and Waupoos Island.  

As we were leaving County Cider, we passed a fruit stand selling apples at Orchard Coast Farms.  The trees in the orchards were heavy with ripening fruit so naturally we had to pull over and get some to snack on. I bought a peck (1/4 bushel) of honeycrisps and they were fantastic. Firm, crisp and juicy, they had the flavour and texture you only get from fresh picked apples in the late summer and autumn.

Long Dog Winery and Vineyard

Long Dog Vineyard and Winery

After filling up on apples, we headed to Long Dog Vineyard and Winery. Long Dog is a small winery in Milford producing excellent wines, including an outstanding pinot noir. It’s a favourite winery of Dan and Jenn’s and they visit often.   Unfortunately, their wines aren’t available at Ontario liquor stores yet so I picked up a Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris for my wine collection.   A short distance from Long Dog is Vicki’s Veggies, a family-owned farm that supplies a number of area restaurants.  They also have a small roadside stand selling organic, heirloom vegetables as well as seeds and homemade pies.   We were a bit late in the day getting there so there wasn’t a lot left (and no one seemed to be around) but there was a box where you could deposit payment for any vegetables you were interested in.  It was very charming and quaint and reminded me of a by-gone era.  We were fortunate enough to try some of Vicki’s produce later that evening and it was delicious.

Huff Estates Winery

Huff Estates Winery

Before breaking from all the touring and tasting for dinner we stopped briefly at Black Prince Winery and Huff Estates.  Huff is a very modern winery with a small inn on the premises and they make some great rieslings, rosés and ice wine as well as a few reds. Some Black Prince and Huff wines are available at Ontario liquor stores and they are worth seeking out.

We finished our whirlwind day with dinner at the renowned County restaurant Harvest. Harvest is owned by Chef Michael Potters and his wife Karin.  Michael had been a chef in Toronto but decided to leave the big city for a quieter life in The County. The restaurant’s first incarnation was The Milford Bistro, a modest little restaurant in Milford.  They moved to a larger building a couple of years later in nearby Picton.  The interior is warm and welcoming with rich, rust coloured walls, wood tables and artwork by local artist Susan Wallis.  The menu is constantly evolving to reflect what’s in season and they source ingredients from local purveyors such as Vicki’s and Fifth Town.  The wine list features a mix of imported wines and local offerings.  The night we visited Chef Potter was in the kitchen and the menu was heavy on seasonal produce such as heirloom beets and carrots, local corn and tomatoes.  To start, Dan had an heirloom tomato salad with Fifth Town goat’s cheese and a sherry vinaigrette while I choose the scallops with corn.  Jenn had the corn chowder with smoky paprika and shrimp.  Along with some fresh, warm bread and butter, it was a great start to the meal.  For his main course, Dan ordered corn cakes made with fresh corn and cornmeal and served alongside pickled beets, french green beans, heirloom carrots and corn foam. Jenn and I both opted for the beef tenderloin served with delicate, airy potato gnocchi, sauteed spinach, mushrooms and tiny, sweet heirloom carrots.   The beef was tender and juicy and both servings were cooked precisely as ordered – no small feat since we each like them cooked to a different degree (I prefer medium-rare whereas Jenn likes hers cooked medium-well).  To accompany our meal, we choose a local Norman Hardie Pinot Noir.   To finish the meal, we tried a trio of desserts and sampled each others: Dan had three miniature creme brûlées (jasmine tea, vanilla and bitter chocolate), Jenn had a strawberry tart and I opted for Karin’s classic chocolate cake.  As we left the restaurant stuffed but happy, we all agreed that it was the perfect way to end our food and wine adventure in The County.

For further information about the food and wine scene in The County, check out the Taste Trail website.

A selection of Prince Edward County wines

A selection of Prince Edward County wines

Many thanks to Dan and Jenn for their hospitality and for seeking out great places to visit.  Check out my recipe for Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette that was inspired by our Harvest dinner!