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.

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Radicchio and Scamorza Risotto

15 03 2011

Scamorza Affumicate: A smoked cheese that is similar to mozzarella and provolone

I recently returned from a trip to northern Italy and have been busy working on my own versions of some of the dishes I enjoyed there. One of those dishes was a smoky risotto with sautéed radicchio that I had one day for lunch.  It was a cool, rainy day and the hearty richness of the risotto paired with a glass of Piedmontese wine was the perfect way to warm up.

Sourcing Ingredients

Scamorza is a cheese that is similar to provolone or mozzarella.  The smoked version (affumicate) is darker in colour and has a firm smoky rind and soft interior. Scamorza affumicate can be found at many cheese shops but you can substitute smoked mozzarella or smoked provolone if you can’t find it.  The scamorza rind is edible but won’t melt as easily so it can be trimmed if desired.

Radicchio at an Italian market

Radicchio is a leafy vegetable that is related to chicory.  Raw radicchio can be quite bitter but it mellows when sautéed or grilled. It can usually be found near the lettuce or cabbage in supermarkets and is easily recognizable by its bright purple leaves.

If it is your first time making risotto, you might find this primer helpful for information about ingredients: Basic Risotto.

Radicchio and Scamorza Risotto

Makes about 4 servings as a starter

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups chopped radicchio (about 1 small head), plus extra for garnish and to make radicchio ‘cups’ (optional, see below)
  • 1 cup raw carnaroli rice (you can use arborio if carnaroli isn’t available)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • About 3-1/2 to 4* cups chicken or vegetable stock – be sure to use vegetable stock if cooking for vegetarians
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) smoked scamorza cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes (equals about 3/4 cup of cubed cheese)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until it’s beginning to soften, about two minutes.  Add the radicchio and sauté for another two minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add rice and sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring periodically.  Pour in the wine and stir the rice.  Reduce heat and let simmer gently until the wine is completely absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  3. Once the wine has completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the stock.  Let the rice simmer gently, stirring occasionally.  Once the stock has almost fully absorbed (about 4 minutes), add another 1/2 cup of the stock.
  4. Repeat the process of adding the stock a half-cup at a time once it has almost absorbed. Continue until the rice is creamy and cooked through but still has a very slight ‘bite’ in the middle of the grains (al dente).  Stir the rice on occasion and keep an eye on it.  It will take approximately 6 to 7* additions of stock in half-cup increments (*Note: the rice may require a little more or less stock, depending on how absorbent it is).
  5. Once the rice is cooked to the desired tenderness, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir into the risotto until completely melted.  Season with salt to taste.
  6. To serve: If you want to make radicchio ‘cups’, trim off the root end of a fresh head of radicchio. Carefully peel back the whole leafs, making sure not to tear them. Arrange three or four leaves on a plate in a circle to make a cup shape. Fill with risotto and garnish with a small amount of fresh chopped radicchio.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Radicchio and Scamorza Risotto in a radicchio cup

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





Italian Summer Menu

18 07 2009
Italy 2007 006

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Summer entertaining is meant to be casual and relaxed.  People sometimes get stuck in a rut when it comes to summer cooking, opting to do the same burgers, hot dogs and potato salad because they’re easy and familiar.  I absolutely love burgers and salad but sometimes it’s fun to try something new and different.  This Italian menu is perfect for entertaining because you can do a lot of the work in advance and I guarantee it will be a crowd pleaser.  Serve the main courses ‘family style’ on a buffet table to make things easy.

Italian Summer Menu

To Start…

Tuscan Lemonade

Mixed olives

Salted Almonds

Small squares of Tomato Tart with Herbed Ricotta

OR

Zucchini Blossoms


Main Dishes…

Bucatini Amatriciana

Gnocchi with Pesto

Corn and Tomato Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Grilled Italian Sausages

Italian Wines


To Finish…

Peach Tiramisu

Biscotti

Vin Santo

Espresso

For more great Italian ideas for the grill, see my write-up on Suite 101.com about chef Mario Batali’s cookbook Italian Grill.

Buon Appetito and Enjoy!