Saturday, April 18, 2009


Braising is my favorite means of cooking. I think I've braised every type of meat in every imaginable way. One of my least favorite cuts to braise is bottom round of beef. In fact, I'm not the only one, in a quote from Cooks Illustrated, "This cut was the tester's least favorite. It was essentially devoid of flavor, and had a rubbery, chewy texture. This roast is not even worth the little that it costs." With that in mind, I figured I would give it one more shot(that, and it was on sale). I've made it in the past and found exactly what Cooks Illustrated found...........very little flavor. Anyway, thumbing through Paul Bertolli's book, "Cooking by Hand," I remembered he had a section on braising and found his Stracotto recipe. Since everything else I've made from his book seems to be dynamite, I went with his recipe. Bought a bottle of Valpolicella and marinated the roast. One problem, he calls for the use of saba or vin cotto, of which I have neither. I stumbled across a recipe for vin cotto in Mario Batali's book, "Molto Italiano." I cooked down some old red wine with some honey, cinnamon and cloves. This was used to deglaze along with the strained marinade. Long story short, it was great. I don't know if it was due to the marinade being applied to the meat hot, or the oven method, but, whatever, it worked, and well. Anyone looking to salvage the use of a cheap, otherwise dry cut of meat should definitely give this method a try.

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