Friday, May 21, 2010

Italian Pot Roast

If you're looking to be comforted, I may have just the recipe for you.

It's the perfect recipe for those of you who are looking to satisfy your slow-cooked beef and pasta craving. For those of you who do not want to put in much effort -- just the time for a long slow simmer -- this goes out to you too.

And lucky us, it is yet another recipe stolen from my mother's repertoire!

We have been eating this Italian pot roast with rigatoni forever. Little wonder: it warms you up when cold, it soothes you when you're down. It can feed a large group if you double it.

A great make-ahead recipe for casual entertaining, it's delicious the first night, and even better the second and third. Very handy indeed.

I love having this dish in my back pocket when I don't know what to cook. The list of ingredients is short. I know it by heart. If I am wandering around the aisles of the market uninspired and lost, I can always turn to this Italian pot roast.

The soft, slow-cooked chuck roast falls apart in a bath of tomatoes and mushrooms. The scent of garlic and rosemary will waft through the house and out the window, watering the mouths of all of your neighbors.

I tend to always serve it with rigatoni. I love the ridges and I love the way the sauce laps into the tubes. That said, I may actually be forced to use penne to finish off the leftovers. Things could be worse.

You are supposed to serve the sauce with the rigatoni as a first course, and then slice the meat and serve it with vegetables as the main course. I never do this. I prefer to eat the meat with the pasta in a soup plate (that's for you, dad!) and to have a garlicky green salad on the side.

For me, freshly grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes are a must. For others, maybe just the parm.

Italian Pot Roast

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
salt and pepper
3 pound boneless chuck roast
1 large can whole tomatoes, preferably san marzano
1 bay leaf
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 cup red wine
10 or so mushrooms, sliced
1 pound rigatoni

Heat oil in a large heavy pot. Add garlic, cook until golden, and then remove. Do not let it get too dark, or everything will taste bitter.

Generously salt and pepper the beef all over. Sear on all sides until dark brown.

Lower the flame. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, rosemary, and wine. Cook for 2-3 hours, until very tender. If it is not tender, keep cooking.

Remove the meat. Add the sliced mushrooms and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente.

Either serve the rigatoni with the mushroom and tomato sauce as a first course and the sliced meat as a main, or do as I do and serve both the sliced meat and sauce over the rigatoni.

Serves 6.

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