Beef Braised in Chianti; Cooking with Wine

Did I ever mention that I often cook with wine?

Not cooking wine…. One should never, ever cook with a wine not fit to drink.

One can get perfectly quaffable wines to use in cooking without uncorking the Grand Crus.

Wine tenderizes the meat, adds flavors and results in fantastic sauces.

I do like to pair the wine for cooking with the wine we'll be drinking with the finished dish.

For Boeuf Bourguignon I get a village wine from the same côte as the dinner wine.

For this dish, Beef Braised in Chianti, I use a cheaper wine from the same region….

The wine used for cooking may be bit rougher around the ages, a bit more tannic than the drinking wine, but underlying notes will be similar.

For the curious: after 15 minutes of simmering, more than half the alcohol in the wine has dissipated; after 1 hour, about 75% is gone; after 2 hours more than 90% is gone.  Three hours will leave only the merest trace of alcohol in your dish.

The weather here has turned unseasonably cold again…. Winter has returned, as has my desire for long, slow braises…. The last one of this winter – I hope!

Beef Braised in Chianti

Beef Braised in Chianti    serves 4

2 1/2 lb beef roast, chuck or rump
1 medium onion
1 carrot
1 stalk (rib) celery
2 bay (laurel) leaves
1 tbs juniper berries
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 bottle Chianti
1 tbs olive oil
4 oz mushrooms
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes 
3 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 3 tbs water or reserved marinade

The night before: Remove any big chunks of fat from beef. Put the beef into a bowl just large enough to hold it. Slice the onion, carrot and celery and add to beef. Add the bay leaves, juniper berries and peppercorns. Pour the red wine over, cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours. (24 or 36 is okay).
The afternoon of: 4 1/2 hours before dinner take the meat out of the marinade and let drain, reserving all of the marinade. Heat oil in the braising pot. Add beef and brown on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Strain the vegetables, reserving marinade. Add vegetables to the beef. Open and drain the tomatoes. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to beef. Clean mushrooms. Roughly chop and add to beef. Add 1/2 of the reserved marinade, cover, reduce heat and let simmer, gently, for 4 hours. Check it periodically and add more reserved marinade as needed. It should almost cover the beef. I used all but about 1 cup.
Finishing: Remove beef from pan and keep warm. Strain vegetables, reserving wine/pan juices. Skim off any excess fat if you can (use a spoon or fat separator), then put juices in a saucepan. Heat juices to boiling. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to thicken. You probably won't need all of it so stop periodically and let it cook to test consistency. Remove bay leaves from vegetables and discard. Add reserved vegetables to saucepan and heat through. (You can put them through a food mill for a smooth sauce …I didn't) Slice some of the beef and arrange on a platter. Spoon some sauce around the beef and serve, extra sauce on the side.

Is anyone else really craving the first asparagus of spring?

8 thoughts on “Beef Braised in Chianti; Cooking with Wine”

  1. I did one experience cooking with wine and it came out so good, can;t possibly imagine why it is not habit… the gravy was to die for.. Thanks for the kick in the pants…
    you;ll be seeing this on my site soon!

  2. I really need to try this again. I’ve never so much liked wine in cooking. But the lesson on evaporation over time is instructive. Perhaps braising will help. Although, today was a glorious spring day and it will need a cold snap to want to cook this delish dish.

  3. We just got another cold snap this morning. The snow level dropped several thousand feet and we’re to expect below freezing temps tonight. The daffodils will not be happy with this turn of events.
    I think I’ll be buying some beef to braise tonight. And a good red wine …

  4. I am so very ready for spring to spring. I’ve noted down several wild asparagus patches (none close to me, sadly) and I have every intention of doing lots of it in about a month or so!

  5. Year on the Grill – wine rules! Even the bit that gets in the pot!
    BorderPundit – I’ve made a version of this with white wine for a less intense flavor. But I like red best. And long, slow cooking – on a cold day.
    Val, will spring never come?
    Christine, snow on the daffys is not a pretty sight.
    Tracy, my s-i-l always gathered wild asparagus. I’ve never seen it here. Good luck!

  6. Definitely agree with only using wine you would drink. That mystery liquid known as cooking wine has never entered my kitchen; I’d sooner use a really cheap mediocre wine.
    Two bottles of red in my fridge right now that need to be used up. I’m planning to put them to good use for sauerbraten and some sort of chicken dish. Oh, and I have a great recipe for a chocolate molten cake using red wine!

  7. Cymry, I’ve never had ‘cooking wine’ either. In Spain we could buy cheap red wine for under a dollar – why buy the fake stuff? (Not that I ever bought any that cheap, but you get the idea)

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