What is it about fall? Call me unoriginal, but something about this time of year turns me into a complete sap. I love the flame-colored trees set against that cobalt sky. I love how the air smells. I want to bundle in my jacket and chunky knit scarf and kick through every pile of fallen leaves that crosses my path. But more than anything, I get that itch for hulking cuts of shoulder and rib meat braised in red wine and stock with starchy root vegetables.
Enter Italian braised beef with Sunday gravy. Be warned: This recipe is a two-dayer and not for the faint of heart. It requires traipsing around for ingredients like meaty bones and 3-pound pot roasts. It demands that you fork over almost a bottle and a half of perfectly drinkable wine. And it does not respond well to impatience. I know I say this a lot but I promise you, it is worth it.
I don’t know why I never thought to serve pot roast over pasta before this, but it is heavenly and I will probably only eat it this way from now on. It allows you to toss everything together and serve it in deep bowls with lots of that lovely sauce you spent two days making. Mmmm, two-day sauce.
Italian braised beef with Sunday gravy
adapted from chef Michael Symon and his mama
3 pounds beef pot roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 celery root, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 large cloves garlic, smashed
2 cups red wine
2 cups Sunday Sauce
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
Fresh basil, for serving
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
Method: Preheat the oven to 300F.
Sprinkle the meat liberally with salt and pepper up to 1 day in advance. Cover and keep in the fridge until 30 minutes before cooking. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until it slides easily around the pan. Sear the meat for 2-3 minutes per side, until well browned. Remove the meat and set it on a plate. Add the onion, carrots and celery root. Sweat the vegetables for about 3 minutes, and then add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Pour in the wine and deglaze the pot, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom.
Add 2 cups of Sunday Sauce, the water, pot roast and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a simmer and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary. Cover the pot and place it in the oven for 3 hours, basting the meat every 30 minutes or so during cooking time.
When you’re almost ready to serve, prepare the rigatoni. Boil in generously salted water according to package directions and cook until al dente.
Transfer the meat to a cutting board and slice it into bite-size pieces. Return the meat to the pot of sauce along with the drained rigatoni. Toss to coat. Before serving, discard the bay leaves. Turn off the heat and toss in torn fresh basil leaves and a large showering of Parmesan. Serves 6.