I was fascinated by this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, but did not have everything on hand, so I improvised (recipe provided after the history lesson):
I am OBSESSED with food history. I have to search for the history of every bit of food that I eat. I don’t know if there is a name for this particular oddity, but I am sure there is one somewhere.
Per this page I learned the following: http://www.inparma.it/english/parma-food/traditional-products/who-invented-stracotto-pot-roast.aspx
History of Parma Cuisine
Footnotes to Parmesan Gastronomy
“Who invented Stracotto pot roast?”
That braised beef or Stracotto (pot roast) is a typically Italian dish, savory and worthy of the best in our culinary tradition, goes without saying. One might debate its origins, if it comes from Piedmont and the way they prepare it in Saluzzo with Barolo, or from Tuscany, in which case it is called “stufato”, or whether it is from Parma. Obviously, because the famous anolini of Parma require Stracotto in their preparation, it could be solemnly stated, once and for all, that Parma is the home of this dish. In any case, among collections of old recipes, I found one that is also listed by Cougnet and which, perhaps to make everyone happy, is simple called “Stracotto all’Italiana”.
Here is that early version of this dish: “Lard a nice fillet of beef, marinate it in a dish with marsala, salt, pepper, fines herbes and truffle trimmings for at least four hours. An hour and a half before serving, in a casserole with butter and lard, brown thinly-sliced onion, carrot, celery and bouquet garni, add the fillet, moisten with the marinade garnish, add rich meat stock, cover with greased paper and simmer, basting occasionally. Remove the fillet, place in a oven-proof dish and pour the braising juices, pour over the meat and add two cups of velout? sauce, place in the front of the oven and moisten to reduce the temperature.
“Prepare a long elegant bed of rice, artfully sculpted and place on a long serving plate. Cut the center piece from the fillet, leaving a base one centimeter high, return the cut piece to its original place, place the fillet on the rice, edged Italian-style with spinach, celery and carrot, alternating the colors. Toss with Madeira sauce, white truffles and serve with the rest of the sauce on the side.”
It goes without saying that Moreau de Saint Mary, Napoleon’s governor of the Parma States from 1802 to 1806, also found it difficult to resist the joys of Parmesan cooking and its stracotto and anolini “dont on est très friend dans les Etats de Parme” and of which he was very fond. He certainly was not the first Frenchman to be won over by the delicacies of Parma.
From G. Gonizzi, Le memorie del Ciambellano. Storie di cucina nel Ducato. I, in Parma Capitale Alimentare, 43, 2000, pp 45-61.
Although I had red wine on hand, I ALSO had a 10 month old child pulling all the pans out of the cupboards as I tried to cook. I *did* have an open bottle of brandy and some truffle oil and balsamic fig vinegar in my ‘vinegar, cooking booze, and fancy schmancy oils’ cupboard, so I improvised. I also have fresh sage, chives, thyme, and other herbs growing outside in my garden. I opted for sage today, because it’s delicious paired with fig and truffles… and the sage in my garden looks beautiful right now.
The result was a delicious, savory, melt-in-your-mouth/knock-yer-socks-off pot roast that I served over basmati rice.
- White Truffle Stracotto (Italian Beef Pot Roast) with Fresh Sage, Mushrooms, Fig Balsamic, and Brandy
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- 4-5 lb. beef chuck roast
- Pink Himalayan sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper (mine was brought back from the pepper farms in the Philippines by my mom)
- 1/3 c olive oil
- 3 onions, chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed
- 16 ounces of low sodium beef broth
- 3/4 c. brandy
- 1/4 c. fig balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 package of sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon of fresh sage or 1 tsp dried sage
- 4 tablespoons white truffle oil
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Generously season the beef on both sides with salt and pepper. In a heavy 6-quart pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the beef and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until aromatic. Add the brandy and balsamic fig vinegar and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth and sriracha. Return the beef to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Add mushrooms about 2 hours into cooking time- Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 3 hours, turning the beef over halfway through and adding more beef broth, as needed.
Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Using an immersion blender, place about 1/2 of the pan veggies and juices into another bowl and blend the remaining pan juices and vegetables until pureed but with a good texture. Add the sage and truffle oil and the reserved whole veggies and juices. Bring to sauce to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Additionally, you can drizzle more fig balsamic on as well…
Cut the beef into 1-inch pieces and place on a platter. Spoon some of the sauce over the meat and serve the remaining sauce on the side.
I served this over basmati rice, with a wild arugula salad on the side (I needed to weed the beds and wild arugula is my primary ‘weed’).