About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Amarone Wine | Main | Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine »

Beef Roast Braised with Onions


The past two days you've read about two wonderful-sounding beef roast recipes from Marcella. The first was cooked in Red Wine (Deborah used a Barolo) and yesterday Doug used an Amorone. Beef and red wine make such a great pairing. I have another Beef Roast recipe for you to try. And it's one that is so simple, and only has 4 ingredients (not counting the salt and pepper). No wine involved (except for you to drink along with the beef). It's Beef Roast Braised with Onions. This recipe calls for cooking a beef roast, preferably a brisket. The store I was in at the time didn't have brisket, but they did have chuck roast, so that's what I used. The other ingredients are pancetta, cloves, and ontions. Doesn't this sound easy?

Okay, there does have to be a catch. The recipe calls for cutting the pancetta into narrow strips and either using a larding needle to lard the meat, or using a chopstick to push the pancetta into the roast. I don't have a larding needle, and I hate to admit it, but I don't think I've seen one and I don't plan on buying one.So I used a very sturdy chopstick, which I pushed into the roast to create a hole, then I used again to push the pancetta into that hole. It seemed like a lot of work. It probably didn't take much time, but I was busy and behind in work I needed to get done the day I made this, so it seemed like it took a long time. Once that was done, it was a breeze. Stud the roast with the cloves (okay, Marcella, I have a really BIG confession to make-I forgot the cloves!), thinly slice onions, and then place the onions in the bottom of a heavy pot. I used a new enameled cast-iron pot I just bought at Costco that I was anxious to try. (by the way, I love it, and it only cost $50). Back to the recipe. What makes this recipe unique is that there is no liquid added to the pot. The roast is just braised with the juices that come out of the onions. And my onions were very juicy, so there was quite a bit of liquid.

Again, back to the recipe. Place the roast on top of the sliced onions, scatter a little of the sliced pancetta on top of the onions, and place your roast on top. Tightly cover, and cook for about 3 1/2 hours.

The onions turn a dark carmelized brown, and the meat absorbs that wonderful caramelly, onion flavor. When my husband tasted it, he exclaimed that it was one of the best meat dishes he has ever had! It was so tender, and as I just mentioned, really absorbed the onion flavor. But not a harsh onion flavor, but instead, that softened flavor that only comes from really slow cooking. I'm sure if I had remembered the clove, it might have even tasted better than it did.

This will get added to my recipe file of one of the easiest but most flavorful roasts to cook. And the next evening, I shredded the leftovers, added a little beef broth to make more of a gravy, and served it over polenta. Another great dish that had us almost licking the plate.

Comments (6)


Now we're talkin'!!! This looks amazing!(although I'm not aware of what a larding needle even looks like or that they existed on the planet). Carmalized onions....one of my favorites!! I bought my sister a new castiron pot for Christmas, I'll encourage her to make this! :))

Great post as usual!!

Cindy, this looks and sounds wonderful. I especially appreciate your description of those lovely onions!


Cindy, I've had recipes (mostly for chicken and turkey that called for this technique. I also don't own a larding needle, so I use the stainless steel BBQ skewers that came with my gas grill.

It looks wonderful, Cindy, and I am sure it tastes even better!

Marcella Hazan:

Isn't it curious that in most old Italian kitchens you'd expect to find a larding needle, but would be surprised to find chopsticks.

The original purpose of larding needles was to insert lard into pieces of meat that were short of essential fat, as were nearly all the less expensive cuts of meat in those distant days. But even if you are not studding a roast with lard - not such a bad idea really - a larding needle is a very neat way to enrich the flavor and moistness of meat with cut up vegetables. I bought my needle decades ago in a New York store paying no more than a dollar or two, and my dears I have sure got a lot of use out of it! I continue to see them in such stores as Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma, so there must be some other cooks who are wise to them.

Sandrine Thomas:

What you described above sounds absolutely luscious, but there was no reference to time, temperature, etc.

We made a brisket in the oven yesterday. Can you say fiasco?! Can you say paper-weight?

Followed a recipe from a trusted long-time cook with a television show.

It wasn't good. Please advise.

Deborah responds:
Sadrine, the reason you don't see any specifics in this blog is that we intentionally decided only to blog about our experience making the dishes along with plenty of pictures. Our goal was to serve as a compliment to the actual cookbook, We felt that if we reproduced the recipes word-for-word, we would be undermining the authors income by eliminating a reason for someone to go out a buy the cookbook.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 11, 2010 2:27 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Amarone Wine.

The next post in this blog is Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine.

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