This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2006.

Italian braised beef

INGREDIENTS: (Serves six to eight)

2 medium or one large yellow onion
2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
2 1/2 pound (1 kilo) beef chuck roast


1. Peel the onion and cut it into thick slices; separate the slices into rings.

2. Put the oil and the sliced onions in a heavy casserole or dutch oven and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until they soften.

3. Put the beef on top of the onions. There's no need to put in additional liquid, as the beef will give off plenty. Cover tightly, reduce heat to very low, and cook for 1 hour. Uncover, turn the beef over, add salt and pepper to taste, cover, and cook for another hour.

At the end of cooking, remove the beef to a serving plate and slice to order. You can serve the pan liquid and onions as is, or run it through a food mill to make a tasty sauce for pasta. (I served a little of it over farfalle.)

WINE MATCH: Beef calls for a red wine, and Italian beef suggested an Italian red, so I opened a robust Veneto item, Santi 2001 "Solane" Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso. Frankly, because pot roasting yields a tender but well-done piece of beef, the hearty Ripasso was almost more wine than the meat really needed. A simple, lighter and fruitier Valpolicella might have served it even better, or a Beaujolais or lighter-style Pinot Noir. But the Ripasso wasn't bad, and the sweet caramelized onion accent certainly played well with the wine's intense dried-fruit flavors.