Braised Beef in Barolo Wine Sauce

Brasato is often served at Christmas time, on New Year’s Day and on other special occasions. We think it makes a delicious alternative to a standard roast!

This is the classic brasato recipe from the Piemonte region, where Barolo wine, which gives this dish its inimitable taste, originates. But, this wine can be very pricey and difficult to find; fortunately, many other good-quality, hearty or full-bodied red wines will do, such as a Barbera, Barbaresco or even a Beaujolais. (Just don’t tell this to a Piemontese!)

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  • 5 pounds rump roast or top round of beef
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni (fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves tied up with a string)
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 6 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 whole cloves
  • A few juniper berries, if available
  • Salt and peppercorns
  • 2/3 bottle Barolo or a full-bodied red wine
  • 2 cups vegetable or beef stock


Preparation for the marinade:
Place the meat in a large bowl; add all the vegetables along with the bouquet garni, cloves and juniper berries, a bit of salt and peppercorns and the Barolo. Let the meat marinate for 12 hours or more if possible in the refrigerator. Turn the meat often.

Drain wine from meat by allowing it to drip off once taking it from the bowl. Dry it with a towel and sprinkle with salt.

In a large, heavy pot, add the olive oil and the butter; when the pot is very hot, carefully place the meat inside, browning it on all sides to seal in the juices. Then slowly add the marinade, the vegetables and stock. Gently bring to a boil with the lid on.

Simmer on a very low flame. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat will reduce in size to about a half and will be very dark on the exterior. Be sure to cover meat with liquid at all times, adding water when necessary.

Before serving, transfer the brasato to a cutting board for a few minutes, covered with aluminum foil. Discard the bouquet garni and pass all the sauce through a vegetable mill. Re-heat the sauce and let it reduce a bit and adjust with salt, if needed.

Cut the brasato into thin slices and place on a hot dish; add some sauce on top—you can also offer sauce separately on the table. This dish is traditionally served with mashed or boiled potatoes.

Leftovers? Use the meat for a wine-braised pasta bake!