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  RECIPE TITLE "Florentine Pot Roast with Red Wine, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes" recipe from Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals: 125 Home Recipes from the Chef-Owner of New York City's Ouest and 'Cesca Copyright © 2003 by Tom Valenti and Andrew Friedman

yields 6 Servings time--- difficultyeasy

Pot roast offers a fascinating look at the differences between home cooking in the United States and Europe. This dish, which to us is a way to cook such staples as carrots, onions, and potatoes, is to Europeans an opportunity to enjoy their most tried-and-true ingredients. This recipe is based on the Italian stracotto, which means "slow cooked." It's a favorite wintertime preparation in Florence and the small Tuscan hill towns that surround it. This version uses an all-star lineup of the region's ingredients, including red wine, dried porcini, and canned tomatoes. Not surprisingly, this pot roast is excellent with its compatriot accompaniment, Polenta (page 210).

  RECIPE INGREDIENTS

  • One 2 1/2-pound eye of the round roast, excess fat trimmed, tied with kitchen string at 1-inch intervals
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slivers, plus 2 cloves smashed and peeled
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pound slab bacon (page 241), cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 medium Spanish onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 celery stalks, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 cups red wine, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup water or store-bought, reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (page 243), rinsed
  • One 28-ounce can plum tomatoes from Italy, drained of liquid and squeezed by hand to remove excess moisture
  • Handful fresh oregano leaves

  RECIPE METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, make small, 1/2-inch-deep slits all over the beef. Slide a garlic sliver into each slit using the edge of the knife. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the beef and sear it well on all sides until well browned, about 4 minutes per side. (Tongs are a good tool for turning the meat.) Transfer the beef to a plate and set it aside.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Add the bacon, onions, celery, and carrot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sugar and stir to coat the other ingredients. Add the wine and water, raise the heat to high, and boil until the liquid has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, and oregano and season lightly with salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the bacon is salty.

4. Return the beef to the pot. It should be half to three-quarters covered by the liquid. If it is not, add some more wine, water, or broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot, transfer it to the oven, and braise the beef for 21/2 to 3 hours, turning the beef over and giving the liquid a stir every half hour. Make sure that the liquid is simmering gently; if it's bubbling aggressively, reduce the oven temperature to 275°F. When done, the meat will be firm to the touch and pink at the center. If not serving immediately, let cool, cover, and refrigerate for a few days or freeze for up to 1 month. Reheat before proceeding.

5. To serve, transfer the beef to a cutting board and slice it against the grain into 6 pieces. Place 1 slice on each of 6 warm dinner plates. Spoon some sauce over each serving and pass extra sauce on the side in a sauceboat.


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