La Dolce Vita and then some

I love the Trevi fountain. It is absolutely impressive. This fountain supplies other fountains in the area with water located in the historic center of Rome and the God of the Sea, Neptune, poses front and center. What is amazing is the water source comes from an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC, almost 4 miles from the fountain. Trevi Fountain was also the location for actress Anita Ekberg’s famous seductive scene in La Dolce Vita– which in English translates “the good life or the sweet life.”

Italians understand the good life. I think if you have a bowl of pasta, toss it with a good olive oil, and mix in a nice Parmesan-now that is sweet and good. Ricotta cheesecake-well you can’t go wrong there. How about Tiramisu with a nice cup of cappuccino? Can you savor the smells and taste the thought of Italian food? I can and I just had a nice dish of Risotto and Cremini Mushrooms!

For now, I want to entice you to Beef Roast Braised with Onions. Yowsa! It was the best roast beef I have had in like never. The cool thing was how super simple it was to make and so very good. I can’t write the description better than the author of my Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, she writes: “What is remarkable about this dish is that it is braised with only the juices that flow from the onions on which the meat rests. Eventually the juices vanish, the meat becomes tenderly impregnated with sweet onion flavor, and the onions turn deliciously brown.” My mouth is watering as I write this. Have this for a Sunday dinner or perhaps a cold chilly night by the fire with a side salad.  As a side, I love my Egyptian Rice recipe (in an earlier post) and so I made that to complement the richness of the roast.

Beef Roast Braised with Onions

3/4 pound pancetta or salt pork in a single piece

2 pounds boneless beef roast (I used chuck, but this recipe calls for Brisket)

5 cloves

4 medium onions sliced very, very thin



Pre- the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the Pancetta or salt pork into thin narrow strips about 1/4 inch wide. Use half the strips to lard the meat with a larding needle or cut slits into the roast and insert into the meat and insert garlic cloves at random into any 5 of the places where the pancetta was inserted.

Choose a heavy-bottomed pot just large enough to accommodate the roast snuggly. Spread the sliced onion on the bottom of the pot, over it distribute the remaining strips of pancetta or salt pork, then put in the meat. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and cover tightly. If the lid does not provide a tight fit, place a sheet of aluminum foil between it and the pot. Put on the uppermost rack of the pre-heated oven.

Cook for about 3 1/2 hours, until the meat feels very tender when prodded with a fork. Turn the roast after the first 30 minutes and every 30 to 40 minutes thereafter. You will find that the color of the meat is dull and unlovely at first, but as it finishes cooking and the onions become colored a dark brown it develops a rich, dark patina.

When done, slice the meat (if you use chuck, it may just fall apart) and arrange the slices on a warm platter. Pour the contents of the pan and the juices left on the cutting board over the meat, and serve at once.



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