Beef Braised in Barolo

This beef braised in Barolo from Cook’s Illustrated is an impressive Italian dinner made with a chuck roast that’s slowly cooked with pancetta, carrots, onions, and celery in a red wine and tomato sauce. Perfect for entertaining.

A sliced beef braised in Barolo, garnished with thyme sprigs, on a bed of mashed potatoes.

Once upon a cold winter’s night, the editors of Leite’s Culinaria made this beef braised in Barolo and were too sated and happy by the insanely rich Italian comfort food to type…–Renee Schettler

Beef Braised in Barolo

  • Quick Glance
  • (8)
  • 1 H, 40 M
  • 5 H, 10 M
  • Serves 6 to 8
5/5 - 8 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and adjust an oven rack to the lower third position.

Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown the beef on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the beef begins to scorch. Transfer the beef to a large plate.

Pour off almost all the fat in the pot, add the pancetta, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, and the rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour, tomato paste, and sugar and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, until smooth. Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Add the beef, along with any juices that accumulated on the plate, to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover, place the pot in the oven, and cook until the meat is very tender and a fork inserted into it meets very little resistance, 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning the beef every hour.

Transfer the beef to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.

Meanwhile, strain the braising liquid into a fat separator or bowl, discarding the solids. Defat the braising liquid by pouring off the fat, skimming the fat with a ladle, or refrigerating the whole shebang overnight so that the solidified fat can be lifted from the surface.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme to the defatted braising liquid, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and cook until thickened, saucy, and reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the kitchen string, slice the beef against the grain into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and transfer to a serving platter with polenta, if desired. Spoon the sauce over the beef, garnish with thyme, if desired, and serve. Originally published May 5, 2008.

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    *What You Need To Know About Ingredient Substitutions

    • Barolo is obviously the wine of choice for this stew; however, an inexpensive bottle of it may require some searching. You may substitute a Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

    • Pancetta can commonly be found thinly sliced and prepackaged…but don’t use that here. Instead, look for pancetta at the deli counter or in an Italian market where it can be sliced 1/4 inch thick to order. If pancetta isn’t available, substitute an equal amount of salt pork (find the meatiest piece possible), cut it into 1/4-inch cubes, and boil it in 3 cups water for 2 minutes to remove excess salt.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    This recipe was killer and I’ll make it over and over. The roast was absolutely wonderful. It was “self shredding”—it just fell apart. It was so moist and, with the braising liquid, extremely delicious. Full-seasoned flavor where present in the sauce: you could taste the pancetta, herbs, vegetables, and wine. It was truly wonderful.

    We served it with roasted vegetables and asparagus spears with hollandaise. What a wonderful meal on a cold day.

    Succulent and packed with flavour, this braised beef dish is an excellent company dish. Our guests very much enjoyed it, as did we. The aromas were fantastic! This is definitely another recipe from LC that I’ll be making again in the future.


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    1. I knew this was going to be amazing based on the aromas in my kitchen while this was braising in the oven. And oh my, I was right. Intensely flavored sauce and melt in your mouth beef. Served with polenta and of course a bottle of Barolo. Funny side note, I purchased a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes and only AFTER adding them realized they had green chilies. Ugh…hate when that happens! Interestingly it did give the sauce an ever so subtle “kick” and honestly I think next time I make this I will do the same!

      1. Ann, this is great, everything that you wrote! Sometimes those seeming mistakes are serendipities, yes? Thanks so much for taking the time to let us know how well this worked for you. And for sharing that gorgeous photo!

    2. I’m an experienced home cook but I’ve never pulled apart a raw roast as specified in the ingredient list. How is this done?

      1. Jan, you can have your butchers do it if you wish. Basically, there’s a natural seam (indicated by the arrows) in a beef chuck eye roast. Pull those two sections apart with your hands (it’s easy to do), trim any silver skin, and tie it up!

    3. I’ve never encountered a Cook’s Illustrated recipe that disappointed, and this one is no exception. It was a huge hit in our house. I didn’t have any Barolo, so I used Cabernet, as suggested, with good results. The recipe is a cinch to make and once in the oven can be left untended for much of the cooking time. The recipe has a fairly large yield and I used the leftovers to make a rágu the next day. Fantastic!

    4. The wonderful smells that filled our home when cooking this dish were amazing! The recipe was easy to follow and very straight forward.

    5. Awesome! The beef was very tender and the sauce – wow fantastic. I didn’t have access to a Barolo so I used a chianti. But otherwise followed recipe. It was 4 1/2 hours from start to finish. Served on top of risotto (creamy parmesan).

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