Springing back to life at the Sabine Farm

With the return of warmer weather, the birds are returning, trees are betraying signs that they are interested in budding, and the snow is melting at the Sabine Farm.

There is so much snow to melt this year, that the basement is getting a bit damp so the pumps have been activated to carry water away from the foundation.  There is some pretty serious water to deal with!

And the chickadees, et al., are seriously draining the feeders.  You can practically see the level of seed drop as they fend of death by starvation.  The trees right now are full of song birds.

I too am managing to fend of starvation, this time through the emergency application of brasato.

Yes, I know this is really more of an autumn or winter choice, but I am always thinking ahead.  I sometimes practice recipes out of season in view of times to come.  Also, I had some beef I had to use.

A recent guest at the Sabine Farm brought along a large beef roast, which we didn’t get the chance to prepare.  So, I took the bull by the horns and turned the carnis bovilla into a Northern Italian staple.  It wasn’t the optimal cut of meat for this recipe, but… heck… I had it and it was free!  It was a good opportunity to give this preparation a shot and get my head around its theory.

It began with a long marinade, 24 hours, in some chopped veg, fresh herbs (which we have been able to maintain here during the winter) and a bottle of red wine, this time an inexpensive barolo.   The marinade was pretty aggressive.  It had clove and cinnamon, fresh rosemary and sage and lots of bay. 

After, the marinade was drained, the beef and vegetables were browned separately, and everything was reunited for slow cooking, in the marinade, for about 3 hours at very low heat.

The meat is taken out, put aside to settle down and let the juices distribute, and the veg and herbs separated and put through a mill. The milled veg are rejoined with the cooking juices in the pan and reduced for the sauce to be served. 

Basically, nothing is wasted in the entire cooking process.

Given the very dark shade of the meat, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find when cutting into it.

I found the impact of the flavors slightly disturbing, at first. 

Then, as I ate, the it began to occur to me how good this was… then how really good this was.  Then, after a break to catch up with my impressions, I cut some more.

I am still thinking about it today.

This was pretty tasty stuff, I must say, though I think I will only marinade for about 12 hours nest time.

I am not quite sure what I would pair this with.  Perhaps a mashed root vegetable like parsnips.  A barolo would be the best bet to go with it.  You would really need to have a break after this, I think, with a sorbetto, in order to change gears.

I am very grateful to a particular person who gave me the recipe in a copy of La Cucina Italiana.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Your posts concerning the farm and food are the most valuable posts you do!!!

  2. Diane says:

    That looks like a cut of meat that wants to simmer a very long time or slow roast. The grains are going in a strange direction (or shall I say in many directions).

  3. Federico says:

    Cercando tra le mie copie di La Cucina Italiana non ho trovato la ricetta per il brasato.

    Se Le interessasse, Le posso invece proporre la ricetta pubblicata sul Carnacina, che rimane (a mio avviso insieme ad Il Talismano della Felicità) un classico della cucina italiana. Ho dato un’occhiata anche sull’Artusi che purtroppo tace sul brasato (abbastanza ragionevolmente, visto che l’Artusi è fiorentino mentre il brasato è piatto tipicamente piemontese).

    Un consiglio spassionato: metta da parte un po’ della carne ed un po’ del sugo. Triti la carne a punta di coltello e la utilizzi come ripieno per degli agnolotti (rigorosamente all’uovo) da condire (ovviamente dopo la cottura) con una noce di burro ed il sugo messo da parte.

    Lo assaggiai l’anno scorso a casa di un amico torinese e, nonostante sia meridionale convinto, ne rimasi commosso.


  4. Federico says:

    Accompaniments: Polenta is never a miss with Brasato which on its own tends to need very little.

    I would recommend starting the meal with cardoons and bagna cauda.

    Barolo is a classic with it, but consider Dolcetto d’Alba as a less expensive but very good alternative.

    But, the whole thing really screams for cold winter weather and a fire crackling in the fireplace (perhaps with the paiolo filled with polenta warming above it.)

  5. Greg: They are also the posts I get the snarkiest and, frankly, stupidest hate mail about. Apparently, in the view of some of the rather more sanctimonious, it would be better to take the good things God created and make them into bad food.   You can take the same ingredients and make something good or something vile.  It doesn’t necessary cost any more, it just takes some imagination and know how.  I can’t grasp how making bad food out of good ingredients gives honor to God. 

  6. Diane: Well… some would say that a marinade of 24 hours and then 3 hours of slow cooking would be enough… and indeed it was. The meat was quite tender. Also, this is the sort of thing you must cut across the grain.

  7. Federico: Polenta… I rarely make it, but that is a good idea. And bagna cauda! … Whew… great stuff.  I had some spiffy bagna cauda near Torino.  Cardoons… hard to get around these parts.  Perhaps I could substitute fennel.  The Dolcetto occurred to me also.  Good choices!  Ti ringrazio anche per il suggerimento per gli avanzi.  Da tempo non ho fatto gli angolotti a casa.  Ci vuole una buona occasione. Se ti conviene, per lo più, vorrei leggere quell’altra ricetta.

  8. Maureen says:

    “I can’t grasp how making bad food out of good ingredients gives honor to God.”

    You should see some people’s postings on what you should eat on fast days in Lent. You’d
    think we were Protestants, the way they decry the eating of fish! And when I post links to
    traditional Lenten cuisines on my blog, they just about blow a gasket. Being ascetic for
    yourself is laudable. But making ascetic demands on other people in a way that the Church
    herself never has — that’s just mean. (I just hope these people aren’t being read by
    anybody spiritually vulnerable or afflicted by scrupulosity.) Purposefully making bad food
    out of good is wasteful, and my mom would say it’s probably some kind of sin.

    That’s a very nice marinade idea for dealing with tough cuts of meat. I shall bear it in mind.

  9. a religious says:

    Dear Father,

    Yum yum !

  10. Virgil says:

    Bravo, Federico. Sono d’accordo con te.

    In fact, as I read the posting, I kept waiting for the polenta: cooked, then cut and fried lightly, as we would serve the dish here in Torino.

    “Inexpensive” Barolo? In Minnesota? Even with Haskell’s Nickel Sale, I have never seen an inexpensive Barolo in the States. Where did you find it?

    I do hope that you drank a Barolo whilst you dined, too.

    The bagna caoda, it I would leave for the depths of winter. Much too rich, it wouldn’t leave room on the palate for the beef. And drink something bubbly with it, to wash away the… the… the… salty pungent character of the dish.

  11. Virgil: Some years ago I found a barolo on sale with a great case price. It was truly inexpensive. Not a great barolo, but a barolo.

  12. Virgil: Some years ago I found a barolo on sale with a great case price. It was truly inexpensive. Not a great barolo, but a barolo.

  13. Federico says:

    Fr. Z:I can’t grasp how making bad food out of good ingredients gives honor to God.

    I think it’s a protestant notion. Ever wonder why food in Belgium is exquisite but if you travel the short distance to the Netherlands cuisine becomes abhorrent? Ruining good ingredients God provides (and almost all ingredients are good in the right hands) seems to me an act of disrespect.

    Brasato from Carnacina:


    Un pezzo di punta di culaccio ben frollata del peso di 2kg sccarsi.
    100 gr di lardo grasso tagliato a filetti lunghi
    1/2 litro di vino rosso
    3 cucchiaiate di brandy
    3 cucchiaiate di olio o d’altro grasso
    Circa 6 dl di brodo
    1 mazzetto guarnito (timo, lauro, prezzemolo)
    Una presa di prezzemolo tritato
    30 gr di farina
    Una punta di quattro spezie

    Fare marinare mezz’ora il lardo grasso con un poco di sale e pepe, il brandy, il vino, ed una punta di spezie. Con un lardatoio steccare il culaccio, all’ultimo momento, con i filettini di lardo grasso cosparsi col prezzemolo tritato. In una casseruola con fondo spesso fare fumare l’olio e mettervi il pezzo di bue, ascuigato accuratamente con un panno perchè l’umidità non lo farebbe rosolare bene; quando è ben rosolato da tutte le parti, sgocciolarlo e metterlo in un piatto. Aggiungere poco alla volta, nel fondo di rosolatura, la farina, mescolando bne per non farla attaccare al fondo della casseruola. Appena prende colore rossastro, diluirla con il vino ed il brandy della marinata e col brodo. Mescolare, far prendere l’ebollizione, rimettervi il pezzo di bue, il mazzzetto guarnito e condire con una buona presa di pepe e poco sale. Appena riprende l’ebollizione, coprire con una carta imburrata e col coperchio e continuare la cottura nel forno, a ebollizione lenta e regolare per 3 ore e più se necessario. A cottura del bue, sgocciolarlo, passarne la salsa col passino fine rimetter il bue e la salsa nella medesima casseruola ben nettata e completare la cottura a calore molto moderato per un’altra oretta almeno. A cottura ultimata la salsa deve essere ridotta di una buona metà.

    Should start a new blog “what does the recipe really say”.

  14. Federico: Thanks for that! Sometimes I wish I had people nearby who could do the production part of not only audio but video for a vlog. Perhaps I would do a cooking segment and ruminiate about Catholic things while working through a recipe.

  15. Geoffrey says:

    Fr Z said: “They are also the posts I get the snarkiest and, frankly, stupidest hate mail about.”

    I love these posts too. I say ignore the naysayers, delete the hate mail, and keep these posts coming!

    Perhaps EWTN would like to produce a program with you? “In the Kitchen with Fr. Z”? “Essence of Z”? “What Does The Recipe Really Say?”

    You’d need a catch-phrase like Emeril Lagasse. How do you say “BAM!” or “let’s take it up a notch” in Latin? ;-)

  16. Rudy of CC says:

    Looks profoundly delicious, Father.

  17. Templar says:

    Cardoons… hard to get around these parts. Perhaps I could substitute fennel.

    In texture maybe, but definitely not in taste. Breaded and pan fried artichoke hearts makes a good substitute for cardoons which I only seem to see here in Georgia about once a year (Oct).

    And I agree I have seen some of the most uncharitable comments about WDTPRS concerning the food posts. It is YOUR Blog!! Other people Blog about whatever pops into their heads, why must you stay 100% on topic? I enjoy them Father.

  18. Templar: artichoke hearts makes a good substitute for cardoons

    Good idea!

  19. Gordon says:

    The cheapest Barolo I’ve seen is in TESCO here in Glasgow(Scotland) it is £10.49. Still pricy but good for such a wine! They are usually an awful lot more expensive.

  20. Matt Q says:

    Wow. Father Z / Chef Z? Impressive. One more think to like Father Z; he can cook his own dinner and well! ;-)

    Father I know at one point you showed us breakfast. Now dinner. What about lunch? We’re curious what you can put together for lunch.

  21. Gordon says:

    Oh dear! Didn’t mean to put that price in there. Smacks too much of advertizing. Sorry.

  22. Gordon: Yes, Barolo is usually very expensive. I recall getting this stuff at a case price of about $10 a bottle. I don’t think it was a mistake either. So, I got quite a bit at the time and have used it for years for all sorts of things. It was definitely not a great barolo, but it has its recognizable character.

  23. Cristhian says:

    Looks very good, and delicious!! :D

  24. Dove says:

    I agree with Federico–another blog for foodies. Federico’s recipe sounds wonderful, too. You don’t see many recipes these days that call for the use of the larding needle! What are “quattro spezie”?
    With your recipe you could have a simple pasta first or, it’s not the Italian way, but I think it would be good with fettuccine al burro.

  25. Dove says:

    HI Fr. Z. I found this recipe in Ricettario della cucina regional italiana, published by the Touring Club Italiano. It is similar to your recipe, but the marinade is not so spicy. It’s not so elegant as Federico’s recipe. It is served with mashed potatoes!! Excuse my typing if there are typos.

    Brasato do manzo al Barolo

    Per 8 personne

    Una costa di manzo di circa 1,5 kg, una bottiglia di Barolo, una cipolla, una carota, una costa di sedano, due foglie di alloro, un ciuffo di rosmarino, pepe nero in granelli,
    burro, grasso di prosciutto, fecola di patate, due spicchi d’aglio, sale

    Disporre la costa di manzo o di bue, in una alta terrina ovale e versarvi sopra una bottiglia di Barolo. Aggiungere la cipolla e la carota affetate, un poco di sedano taliuzzato, due foglie di alloro, un pizzico di pepe nero in granelli. Lasciare la costa in fusione per ventiquattro ore, voltandola a lunghi intervalli. Al momento di cucinarla, toglierla dalla marinata e asciugarla, poi legarla con filo da cucina per mantenerla in forma e metterla in una casseruola con un poco di burro e grasso di prosciutto crudo, l’aglio e il rosmarino e rosolare da una parte e dall’altra. Intanto passare in un colino il vino della marinata, liberandolo dagli aromi. Raccoglierlo in una casseruola e farlo bollire fino a che si sarà ridotto della metà. Condire la costa, ben rosolata, con un poco di sale e bagnare a più riprese con il vino della marinata. Coprire e lasciare finire di cuocere su fuoco moderato. Sgrassare il sugo legato con un poco di fecola. Quando la costa sarà cotta, togliere delicatamente lo spago e accomodarla nel piatto di portata; tagliarla con attenzione versando sopra il fondo di cottura. Servire guarnendo con purea di patate.

    Ricettario della cucina regionale italiana, p. 335

  26. Dove: Thanks for that! It is in many respects close to the recipe I used.

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