Brasato Al Barolo is Italian braised beef in Barolo wine. The beef - brisket - is braised in a Dutch oven until it is perfectly tender. Barolo is super expensive so I came up with a more economical dish. It's just as good and can be made at a fraction of the cost!
What is Brasato Al Barolo?
Brasato al barolo is beef, typically a chuck roast or some other roast variety, braised in Barolo wine. The cut of beef is marinated overnight in the wine along with vegetables, herbs, and a few spices.
Cloves, juniper berries, and cinnamon are some of the more common ingredients that can be found in this Italian braised beef.
The next day the beef is seared, then braised for a few hours. The gravy is then made with the braising liquid and softened vegetables.
Brasato al barolo is traditionally served with polenta, but is quite delicious with creamy mashed potatoes as well.
I tend not to be dogmatic when it comes to recipes. Eat what you like! Serve it with what you like, and as I did, braise it in the red wine that you like.
Maybe barolo is a lot cheaper in Italy, but it's crazy expensive anywhere I see it. It is always on the top of the best Italian red wine lists. I have had it a few times and though it's really good I wouldn't want to use it for braising.
Valpolicella is an excellent choice because of the price and quality of it. What I recommend doing is buying a $10-$15 valpolicella for the braising and a valpolicella ripasso for the meal. Way cheaper than buying 2 bottles of barolo!
How to make it
- Picture of ingredients.
- Shown are 2 briskets with a combined weight of 4 pounds. Shoot for about 3-4 pounds and if you can, get one flat cut brisket as opposed to two pieces like I bought.
- Rough chop the onion, carrots, and garlic.
- Place the brisket in a dutch oven and add the whole bottle of wine and the beef broth. Add the juniper berries, clove, garlic, onions, carrots, and all the herbs. Try to keep the brisket submerged. Cover the brisket and refrigerate overnight. If you can, turn the brisket every few hours to achieve even marination.
- After marinating for hopefully at least 12 hours, remove brisket and dry off really well with paper towels. Strain the vegetables from the wine.
- Season the dry brisket on all sides aggressively with kosher salt and a moderate amount of pepper.
- Heat dutch oven on medium-high heat with the ¼ cup of olive oil. Brown the brisket, fat side first, and then on all sides until nice and brown. Should take about 20-25 minutes.
- Set brisket aside and brown the veggies in the oil and fat mixture for 10 -15 minutes on medium heat.
- Add the wine to the pot and, with a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the dutch oven to remove all the flavor bits. Add the brisket to the wine and veggies.
- Cover and place in 300f oven for 3-4 hours. Try to turn the brisket every hour or so. The brisket will take roughly 45-60 minutes per pound to get nice and tender.
- This is how it will look when it's done.
- Remove the brisket to a cutting a board and let it rest covered.
- Cut the brisket against the grain. The brisket I used had alternating grain patterns because I had the point. It's not worth getting into here, but try to buy a brisket with the grain running in one direction.
- The Italian braised beef is ready for the sauce. Cover it with foil to keep warm.
- Strain the sauce. Remove the rosemary and thyme stems, sage, and bay leaves. Return the veggies to the sauce to make the gravy.
- To make the gravy, either blend with an immersion or traditional blender. If using a regular blender be very careful to not overfill when blending hot liquids.
- Cook the sauce for 20 minutes on high to reduce. During the last minute, add the cognac. Turn the heat down and add 2 Tablespoons of butter. Stir to make a glistening sauce. Finally if it's not thick enough for your taste use a little bit of cornstarch mixed with water. Start with 1 Tbsp of cornstarch to 2 ounces of water, but go easy as too much could ruin it. I did not use cornstarch.
- Finally serve the meat with either polenta or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!
What to serve with it
Brasato al Barolo is traditionally served with polenta. Polenta is real easy to make.
All you do is add the cornmeal to boiling water and turn it low, stirring every now and then for 30 minutes to avoid clumps. Pecorino cheese is excellent in polenta.
Another great option is gorgonzola polenta. That's what we had. The sharp cheese really compliments the red wine sauce in this Italian braised beef recipe.
Garlic mashed potatoes would work well, as would some plain egg noodles. Basically, make something that can hold the beefy red wine gravy!
A nice loaf of Italian bread is probably a good idea too!
For this dutch oven brisket, good substitutes would be either a chuck roast or a top or bottom round roast. I prefer the brisket flavor, but they all do really well in the braising liquid.
They are all tough cuts of beef, which means the longer they cook the more the connective tissue breaks down. When the tissue adequately breaks down, the meat becomes tender and delicious!
My best tip
If you refrigerate the finished product overnight and have it the next day it will be ten times better! If you've ever had leftover pot roast, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
The same phenomenon is observed with chili. Anyway, it's still amazing right away, but consider making double so you'll have an even better one for the next day!
More beef recipes
- Sunday sauce with meatballs - The classic sauce served with tender meatballs.
- Italian beef stew - Chuck roast cubes with red wine and veggies.
- Italian beef braciole - Beef rolled with raisins, pine nuts, garlic, and cheese and braised in sauce.
- Short rib ragu - The most comforting pasta you'll ever have!
- Reverse seared ribeye steak - Easy way to make a perfect steak every time.
- Italian meatloaf - 80/20 chuck seasoned Italian style and served in tomato sauce with mushrooms.
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- 1 4 pound flat brisket
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 3 ounces cognac
- 1 cup low sodium beef broth
- 1 large onion
- 2 large carrots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 medium bay leaves
- 15 medium sage leaves
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 10 whole juniper berries
- 5 whole cloves
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- Rough chop the carrots, onion, and garlic. Place in dutch oven with brisket, full bottle of wine, and the beef broth. Also, add the juniper berries, cloves, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and sage. Refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours turning every so often to achieve even marination.
- Next day, strain the liquid and separate the veggies and brisket. Dry the brisket very well to achieve a good sear. Season the brisket aggressively on all sides with 1-2 Tbsp of kosher salt and a little bit of black pepper.
- Heat dutch oven on medium-high heat and add ¼ cup of olive oil. Brown the brisket on all sides. Should take 20-25 minutes to get a nice sear on all sides. When finished with brisket, set aside and saute the strained veggies and herbs for 10-15 mediums on medium.
- Add the liquid back to the pot and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to remove the flavor bits. Add brisket in and cover. Cook in oven for 3-4 hours turning every hour.
- When finished remove meat and tent with foil. Separate the veggies and liquid again. Remove and discard the herbs. Add the veggies back to the pot and boil sauce to thicken for 20 minutes. The sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon, but not be overly thick.
- Blend the sauce with an immersion or regular blender to further thicken it. Add the cognac and cook for 1 more minute. Add the butter and stir to finish the sauce.
- If the sauce is not thick enough mix 1 Tbsp of cornstarch and 2 ounces of water thoroughly and add to sauce. Boil out for 1 minute to thicken. The sauce should not be overly thick and this step is probably not necessary.
- 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!
- Cinnamon can also be added for a real nice flavor.
- Adjust salt level after reducing sauce, as it will get saltier during the reduction.
- Store the cooked brisket overnight and reheat in the pot for an even better flavor the next day!