01 09 10

search you little tarte

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Thing of Beauty

The finished product:  Beef in Barolo

As the cooler months approach, it's getting to be time to make heartier dishes.  And heartier dishes often requiring searing meat to seal in their flavor and juices.

A beautifully seared piece of meat is a thing of beauty.  It should be dark and crusty all over.  It should not be charred or burnt, but it should have a nice crust on it.  I am a firm believer that well seared meat is the key to success in braising.

Searing meat is easy to do too.  I used to be afraid to really go to town with the searing.  It all started with the Balthazar recipe for coq au vin.  That recipe, which is hugely time consuming, called for searing the chicken legs until they were very dark brown.  I got them as far as a toasty brown and figured that that was enough.  When I cooked the stew the skin came out rubbery.  Obviously toasty was not dark enough.

Each time I made that recipe I went a shade darker.  Finally, after a couple of tries,  I made it to the dark sear that the recipe called for.  And let me tell you, it made a huge difference.

First roll the roast in seasoned flour.

Now I'm a searing fiend.  The other night I made a roast.  I rolled it in flour, heated the oil so that it was really smokin' hot, and let her rip.  The result was a gorgeous seared roast, ready to take a long slow bath in red wine.  My sear was so lovely that I took a picture.

The next time a recipe calls for searing the meat be bold and go for it.  Ten minutes on each side in
really hot oil.  It will be a thing of beauty.                   

Recipe:  Beef in Barolo                                                                                  
(The Italian Slow Cooker, © 2010 by Michele Scicolone)


1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 3-pound boneless beef chuck or bottom round roast
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry red wine, such as Barolo
2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1 cup canned beef broth
2 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium celery rib, sliced
1 bay leaf
Pinch of ground cloves


Combine the flour with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture on a piece of wax paper and roll the meat in the flour.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown it on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place the meat in a large slow cooker. Add the pancetta and onion to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender. Stir in the garlic. Add the wine and bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan.

Pour the mixture over the beef. Add the tomatoes and broth. Scatter the carrots, celery, bay leaf, and ground cloves around the meat. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.

Transfer the meat to a platter. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce. Slice the meat and spoon on the sauce.

No comments:

Post a Comment