This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, March 10, 2005.

Roman beef pot roast
(Modified from Joyce Goldstein's Italian Slow and Savory)

INGREDIENTS: (serves 6, or 2 with abundant leftovers)

2 ounces (60g) pancetta
1 medium yellow or white onion
1 carrot
3 stalks celery
2 or 3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon (5g) ground cloves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon (15g) tomato paste
3/4 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
Boneless beef chuck, round or rump roast, about 2 1/2 pounds (1 kilo)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


1. First, prepare all the ingredients. Chop the pancetta into small dice, and chop the onion, the peeled carrot and one of the celery stalks, reserving the other two. Mince the garlic, and measure out the other ingredients.

2. Coat a large dutch oven or deep iron skillet with just enough olive oil to cover the bottom, and brown the beef on all sides over medium-high heat. Remove the browned roast to a plate and keep it warm.

3. Add the diced pancetta to the skillet and cook it in the pan drippings, scraping up browned bits, until the pancetta starts turning crisp and brown and has rendered some of its fat. Put in the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook over medium-high heat until they soften and start to brown. You can add a little more olive oil if needed, but chances are it won't be necessary. After the veggies start to brown, add the garlic, ground cloves and thyme and stir briefly. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the red wine and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the wine reduces a little.

4. Put the beef back in the skillet, and add the beef stock. (Goldstein also offers the option of adding a half-dozen two-inch strips of orange zest at this point, but I declined, feeling that the orange flavor would be too much of a good thing.) Stir once or twice, cover tightly, and simmer over very low heat, turning the beef occasionally, until the meat is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You can add a little beef broth or water if needed, but I found this unnecessary; in fact, I removed the cover and turned up the heat a little at the end of cooking to reduce the liquid to a more sauce-like consistency.

5. I did accept another Goldstein option, cutting the remaining two stalks of celery into 1-inch lengths and "blanching" them with a 5-minute bath in simmering water before adding them to the sauce for the last half-hour of cooking.

6. Goldstein advises holding salt and pepper until the end, seasoning to taste at serving time, and I followed this advice, although I don't see any reason not to salt and pepper the beef - in reasonable amounts - at the browning stage, then adjusting seasoning at the end.

Goldstein recommends a regional match with Falesco Montiano, an excellent but rather pricey Merlot that's one of the few big reds from Lazio, the Italian state that incorporates Rome, and coincidentally one that I have featured in the Wine Advisor Premium Edition. I think that's good advice, but if you're not in the mood to cough up 40-plus bucks for the wine, just about any hearty Italian red will do. I went with a lower-end option from the same producer, Falesco 2002 Vitiano Umbria Rosso.