This classic Piedmontese-style Brasato al Barolo is an incredibly flavorful dish made with beef brisket that’s braised until tender in a blend of red wine and herbs. The only thing better than the taste is the heavenly aroma that fills your home.
Editor’s Note: Originally published on December 10, 2018. Updated with expanded information.
Brasato al Barolo, or brasato al vino rosso, typically consists of a chuck or brisket that’s braised in red wine.
It gets its name as the wine used in the traditional recipe is a Barolo, a full-bodied red wine that hails from the Piedmont region of Italy (see alternatives below in the ingredient section).
Brasato al Barolo is a dish I’d typically serve for a special occasion since both the beef and the wine are on the pricier side.
Table of Contents
All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.
- Red wine. Most Barolos are expensive so if you’re on a budget, I recommend using a less expensive red from the same region, such as a Nebbiolo, Barbera, or Dolcetto, however, if you can’t find these types, a chianti or cabernet would do just fine. The full bottle is used for this recipe.
- Brisket. I used a 6-pound brisket flat. Brisket is made up of two different muscles, the flat and the point. The flat tends to be leaner while the point is fattier. While you can use either, the flat is better for slicing as shown below.
- Beef Broth. Use low-sodium or homemade beef stock.
- Cinnamon. 1 stick for flavoring the marinade.
- Juniper berries. Also for flavoring the marinade and adds a great botanical flavor.
- Herbs. Bay, sage, and rosemary are wrapped in a sachet with the cinnamon stick and juniper berries to flavor the marinade.
- Pancetta. Along with olive oil, this provides the fat in which the brisket is seared.
- Marsala wine. Dry Marsala is added to the braising liquid for additional flavor.
See the recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Dice 1 large onion, 2 ribs of celery, 2 large carrots, and mince 4 cloves of garlic. Use a cheesecloth to make a sachet with 1 large cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 10 whole juniper berries, 3 large bay leaves, 10 large sage leaves, and 5 sprigs of rosemary. Place the sachet and a 6 pound brisket flat in a flat baking dish and pour 2 cups of low sodium beef stock and 1 750ml bottle of red wine over it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours but ideally overnight. Make sure to flip the brisket a few times during the process so that both sides get equally marinated. (Photo #1)
- The next day, strain and reserve the marinating liquid, vegetables, and brisket all in separate bowls. Preheat the oven to 300f. (Photo #2)
- Dry the brisket very well with paper towels and season on all sides with 2 1/2 tablespoons of Diamond kosher salt (or 1 3/4 tablespoons of Morton’s kosher salt) and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. (Photo #3)
- Use about 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour to dredge the brisket and shake off the excess. Discard the flour. (Photo #4)
- Heat an oven-safe roasting pan to medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/4 pound of diced pancetta and cook for 7-10 minutes or until crisp (Photo #5).
- When the pancetta is done, remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the brisket to the pan and brown it on all sides. Once the brisket is nicely browned, remove it from the pan and set aside. (Photo #6)
- Add the reserved marinated vegetables to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, or until soft and lightly colored. (Photo #7)
- Add the reserved liquid back to the pan and bring to a boil while scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to dislodge the brown bits. (Photo #8)
- Turn off the heat and add the brisket (fat side up), the pancetta, and the sachet back to the pan. Cover the brisket with two layers of tightly sealed foil and cook for 4 hours in the oven. After 4 hours check for doneness. The brisket must be tender enough for a knife or fork to push through the meat with very little resistance. If the brisket is still tough, return to the oven and cook for another 45-60 minutes, then check again. (Photo #9)
- When the brisket is tender, remove it from the oven and allow it to sit for 30 minutes more without removing the foil. After 30 minutes, remove the brisket and discard the sachet. (Photo #10)
- Place the pan with the liquid on a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Boil the sauce until it’s thickened to your liking. Traditionally the sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon but not be overly thick. You can blend the sauce using an immersion blender if you’d like it to be thicker. (Photo #11)
- Add 1/2 cup of dry marsala wine and cook for 1 minute, then add 2 tablespoons of cubed unsalted butter. Taste test the sauce and season with salt and pepper if desired. (Photo #12)
- Cut the brisket against the grain and serve on a platter with the sauce spooned on top. (Photo #13)
- If time permits, Brasato al Barolo will be even better the next day. You can wrap the brisket in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. (Photo #14)
- The next day, the brisket will be cold and much easier to slice into thinner slices. (Photo #15)
- If desired, you can remove any additional fat. At this point, you can reheat the brisket along with the sauce in a covered baking dish at 275f until hot. Serve with creamy polenta and enjoy! (Photo #16)
- Cooking the brisket. While brisket is safe to consume at an internal temperature of 200-205f, it will most likely not be tender at this point. Since the brisket is braised at 300f it will often reach 200f after only 2 hours of cooking but will still be tough. Cook the brisket until it is fork-tender. For a 6-pound brisket, that can be anywhere from 3 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours.
- Carve the next day. As with most braised dishes, brasato will be better the second day. Not just for taste, but also will be easier to slice if stored in the fridge overnight.
- The wine. While the dish traditionally calls for Barolo, rest assured that any red wine will be ok. Barolos can often cost $50 or more which for most people is very expensive. You can absolutely use a more economical wine such as a Dolcetta, or Barbera (both Piedmontese wines) and get excellent results. I say save the $50+ bottle of Barolo for drinking!
More braised beef recipes
If you love hearty braised beef dishes, here are a few of my favorites. I hope you love them!
- Braised short ribs – with herbs, tomato, wine, and vegetables and a gremolata.
- Italian beef stew – also known as spezzatino di manzo.
- Short rib ragu – served over pappardelle.
- Peposo – Tuscan beef stew with red wine and black pepper.
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Brasato Al Barolo
Marinate the beef
- 1 6 pound brisket flat
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 ribs celery diced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 2 cups low sodium beef broth
- 1 large cinnamon stick
- 10 whole juniper berries
- 3 large bay leaves
- 10 large sage leaves
- 5 sprigs rosemary
- 3 cloves
Sear the beef and braise
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 pound pancetta diced
- 2 1/2 tablespoons Diamond kosher salt or 1 3/4 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour to dredge only, discard excess
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala
- 2 tablespoons butter cubed
- salt and pepper to taste, for final sauce
Marinate the beef
- Make a sachet with cloves, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, juniper berries, and the cinnamon stick. Place the brisket and the sachet in a flat baking dish and pour the wine over and stock over it. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours but ideally overnight. Make sure to flip the brisket a few times during the marinating process so that both sides get equally marinated.
Sear the beef and braise
- Preheat the oven to 300f.
- The next day, strain and reserve the liquid, vegetables, and brisket all in separate bowls.
- Dry the brisket very well with paper towels. Season the brisket with salt and pepper on all sides then dredge in flour and shake off the excess.
- Heat an oven-safe roasting pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil and the pancetta and cook until crisp (7-10 minutes) then remove to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the brisket to the pan and brown it on all sides. Once the brisket is nicely browned, remove it to a plate and set aside.
- Add the reserved vegetables to the pan and cook until softened and lightly colored (about 10 minutes).
- Add the liquid back to the pan and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to remove all of the flavor bits then turn the heat off. Add the brisket (fat side up), pancetta, and sachet back to the pot. Cook in the oven covered for 4 hours covered very tightly with a double layer of foil. After 4 hours check for doneness. The brisket must be tender (a knife or fork will push through the meat with very little resistance). If the brisket is tough, return to the oven for another 45-60 minutes and check again. For more on this see notes below.
- When finished remove the brisket from the oven and let sit for 30 more minutes without removing the foil cover. After 30 minutes remove and discard the sachet. Place the pan onto a burner and turn the heat to medium-high. Boil the sauce until thickened to your liking. Traditionally the sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon, but not be overly thick.
- Add the marsala and cook for 1 more minute. Whisk the butter and stir to incorporate. You can blend the sauce with an immersion or regular blender to further thicken it if you like or leave it as is for a more rustic appearance. Taste test the sauce and season with salt and pepper if required.
- Cut the brisket against the grain and spoon the sauce all over the meat in a serving platter. Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
- Cooking to a 200-205f internal temperature will not guarantee a tender brisket! Since the brisket is braised at 300f it will often reach 200f after only 2 hours of cooking but will still be super tough. Cook the brisket until fork tender, which for a 6-pound brisket will be anywhere from 3 1/2 – 5 1/2 hours.
- As with all braises, this dish will be much improved the next day. If you have the time, store the cooked brisket (wrap it after the braise and carve when cold the next day for much thinner slices) overnight and reheat it and all of the sauce in a baking dish covered with foil at 275f until hot.
- Though this dish is traditionally made with Barolo, any dry red wine will suffice. Use a wine you enjoy. And don’t worry about not using a $70 or more Barolo, the dish will still be great!
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
This recipe was originally published on December 10, 2018. It was completely updated on November 15, 2023.