Beef Roast Braised in Zinfandel

Updated from the recipe archive. First posted 2006. Enjoy!

“This isn’t your everyday pot roast,” my father declared as we sat down for dinner to enjoy the roast that he had been cooking all afternoon. No, indeed it isn’t. The sauce includes an entire bottle of bold red Zinfandel wine. The vegetables in the sauce are cooked until every ounce of flavor is extracted from them, and then the sauce is pressed through a sieve and reduced even further. The beef, braised for hours is fork tender. Enjoy.

Beef Roast Braised in Zinfandel Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 1/2 pound) chuck roast, boneless
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 oz pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, chopped medium (about 2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped medium (about 1 cup)
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped medium (1 cup)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle Zinfandel wine (can substitute Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

Method

1 If your roast is very fatty, trim some of the fat. But it is important to keep some fat, as this will keep the roast moist while braising. In many supermarkets chuck roasts will already be properly trimmed. Salt the roast well and set aside at room temperature while you prepare all the other vegetables.

zinfandel-braised-beef-roast-1.jpgzinfandel-braised-beef-roast-2.jpg

2 Pour a little water into a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot. Set the pot over medium heat and add the diced pancetta. As soon as the water begins to simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and slowly crisp up the pancetta; the water allows some of the fat in the pork to render out without charring the pancetta. When the pancetta is crispy and brown, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.

zinfandel-braised-beef-roast-2b.jpgzinfandel-braised-beef-roast-3.jpg

3 Preheat the oven to 300°F. Pat the beef roast dry with a paper towel, increase the heat to medium and brown all sides in the pot. Once the meat has browned remove it to a bowl and add the onions, carrot and celery. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables while they cook. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

zinfandel-braised-beef-roast-4.jpgzinfandel-braised-beef-roast-5.jpg

4 Add the tomato paste and stir well, sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Increase the heat to high and add the tomatoes, the pancetta, herbs and red wine. Nestle the beef roast into the pot, cover, place in the 300°F oven and cook for 3 hours. At the halfway point, use tongs to turn the beef roast over.

zinfandel-braised-beef-roast-6.jpgzinfandel-braised-beef-roast-7.jpg

5 Remove the pot from oven and transfer beef to a large bowl; tent with foil to keep warm. Allow the liquid to settle in the pot for a few minutes, if you'd like, skim off some of the fat with a wide shallow spoon. If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the contents of the pot. If you don't, use a whisk to help break down the vegetables. Boil the sauce until it is reduced to about 3 1/2 cups. Strain liquid through large fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids with spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; you should have a couple cups strained sauce. Add any accumulated juices from the bowl you have the beef in. Boil the sauce again until it has reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

5 Cut the meat into roughly 1/2-inch-thick slices and pour the sauce over them. Serve with a bold red wine and crusty bread or mashed potatoes.

Links:

Braised Beef with Burdock - from No Recipes
Braised Short Ribs in Barolo - from The Paupered Chef

29 Comments

  1. chefJustin

    Whatever you do, DON’T SKIMP ON THE WINE! Buy a decent bottle ($8-10 range), because any wine you cook with is reduced in volume–therefor the flavor will intensify. If it doesn’t taste good in a glass, it will taste even worse in your dish!

    Also, try finishing the sauce by whisking in a few tablespoons of unsalted butter (not margarine, for God’s sake). It will taste much smoother and richer.

  2. Katie

    I made this yesterday – the first recipe I’ve tried off this site – and its lovely!! Perfect for a cold rainy day! Thanks!!

  3. Diana

    This was so very, very good. I wanted to drink the sauce while I was putting away the leftovers. I didn’t– but I wanted to. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. John

    MAN was this good! We made it with the scalloped potatoes recipe. It is not very often that we both truely savor a meal together… we LOVED this one.

    My wife did say that it was a bit more labor intensive than her typical pot roast..but this was not your typical pot roast! Definitely give it a try.

  5. Maynard

    I can honestly say that this was absolutely ghastly. The suace was weak and sour, the meat was flavorless and tough.

    If you want to try this one, I suggest you use a meat with a good bit of fat in it otherwise the meat will not break down to the level of tenderness you are looking for out of a Braised Beef.

    A chuck roast is the best cut for braising, make sure you are using that cut and not another. Also, because this recipe calls for an entire bottle of wine, using a bottle of wine that you enjoy drinking is important. The better the wine going in, the better the sauce is going to be. If the wine isn’t particularly good (or you don’t really love drinking it) it isn’t going to make a decent sauce. Finally, sometimes the roast just isn’t tender enough after 3 hours and needs more time in the oven. ~Elise

  6. Kyle S

    After having this recipe bookmarked for several months, I finally got up the determination to stand over the stove.

    I am fairly reserved when it comes to cooking with so much red wine. A previous experience with a braised lamb shank and a bottle of corked Pinot Noir had rendered me wary.

    The only adjustment I made to the recipe was in the timing of the addition of the tomato paste. I waited until the garlic went in, just before flouring.

    I used a slightly better bottle of Zinfandel than I would normally select just in case.

    The recipe may seem daunting before you actually get into the kitchen, but all in all, the preparation is quite simple and the clean up a breeze.

    The roast came out beautifully and it tasted great. Searing the beef in the pancetta drippings well is key to maintaining a nice coloring in my opinion.

    The sauce probably could have used a little beef broth to darken it up.

    The family gave this a thumbs-up.

  7. RH

    For Lynn, who asked about a crockpot method: I browned the beef in a cast iron skillet, put it in the crockpot, then made the sauce in the skillet (omitting the flour). Poured the sauce over the beef, cooked on low for the usual crockpot time. Pulled out the beef, strained the sauce and placed into a sauce pan. I reserved a half cup, added flour to it in a shaker, shook it up, then added it in the saucepan to complete the gravy. Worked great.

    Crockpots are an essential tool for us working moms.

  8. James

    Followed advise from RH for crockpot method. Did some low budget modification with Ralph’s thick cut bacon for pancetta and a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck petite shiraz for the Zin. Super yummy.

  9. Jason

    My mother and I just made this roast two nights ago. We didn’t have a Zinfandel on hand, so we ended up using a Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon, as per your recipe. The result was quite wonderful, and we served it with egg noodles and Brussels sprouts. I must say the whole family was rather pleased, so this recipe is definitely one to keep. Thanks.

  10. kpc

    We made this yesterday and it was delicious. I don’t like chuck roast so we used a Beef Brisket and it came out so tender we didn’t even need a knife to cut it. Even though we cook with wine a lot, we had never used a whole bottle before but it was excellent. The only change we made was not straining the veggies as we like them in the sauce. Will make again for sure!!

  11. Michelle

    Absolutely Fantastic! My brother made for Christmas Dinner and everyone raved. I wasn’t too sure about a whole bottle of wine, but it leaves a fantastic rich sauce. I will certainly make this receipe myself. Enjoy!

  12. Diamondback Dave

    Very nice recipe, flavorful, makes a wonderful finishing sauce. Has been added to my cook binder.

  13. Elizabeth

    Made this on Sunday and it was fabulous! Like another poster, I went the less expensive route and used thick cut bacon instead of the pancetta and switched out a bottle of 2 Buck Chuck Shiraz for the Zinfandel. The sauce is so good!

  14. Tricia

    Is there a way to make this a slow cooker recipe?

    You should be able to do step 3 in a slow cooker. Just don’t stir. ~Elise

  15. Kathy

    I bought white zinfandel by mistake, so I used a bottle of merlot that I had in the pantry. This was fantastic. I didn’t add sugar, nor did I feel that I had to strain the vegetables. We enjoyed them right along with the roast.

  16. Liane

    This recipe was my weekend project. I did all the steps up until boiling/putting in the oven on Saturday, then cooked on Sunday. This made a truly great dinner. The sauce looked so good after the first reduction/whisking that I left it alone and will use the extras as a sort of stew over rice. Served with simple steamed asparagus and bread for sopping up the sauce. Excellent.

  17. Reese

    It occurs to me that this would be a fantastic way to cook Venison!

  18. Mike

    Nice to see this recipe featured again. I’ve made it several times and it never fails to please. Don’t get too picky on the wine–any dry red works just fine.

  19. Sheri J

    Sorry if this is a stupid question, but do you salt the beef then pat it dry or pat it dry then salt the beef? I am a beginner cook and it seems patting after salting will remove the salt?

    Great question. You can go either way actually. But one reason to salt the roast first, while it is coming to room temp, is that the salt will help draw the moisture to the surface. Then when you pat the roast dry, it will more easily brown. The roast will have absorbed some of the salt. ~Elise

  20. Paula

    Elise, I have a question. I know that everyone says the alcohol cooks out of the wine when your heating it, but can I make this for my family? I have 4 kids and a large chuck roast in the freezer. (I also have Zinfendel in the house, because I have 4 kids.)
    Anyway, this looks absolutely delish and I want to try it. Should I hold out for “date night” with hubby, or make it for Sunday dinner?.

    This is perfectly fine for a family meal. There may be a trace of alcohol left after all that cooking, so if you are allergic to alcohol, then you shouldn’t cook with it at all. But for serving to a family? You’ll be fine. ~Elise

  21. Judith

    This is very similar to my version of Julia Child’s Beef Stew with Zinfandel. Instead of using chuck (whole or cut up) I use thick slices of beef shanks. I buy 5 or 6 lbs of them, cut about 1″ thick, complete with the bones. I salt and pepper them and brown them (much easier than browning smaller pieces of meat). Then I deglaze the pan with sliced onions and carrots(cut in 1-2 inch chunks) until they are golden, and add the garlic. Then I add a bottle of Zin, a 28-oz tin of chopped tomatoes, and beef stock if needed to cover the meat. I also add Herbes de Provence or just thyme depending on how I feel. I let it cook in the oven at 325 for a few hours. After that I take out the bones, skim the fat, reduce the sauce if necessary (usually not) and serve with noodles, rice or potatoes. The marrow in the bones and the connective tissue in the shanks give the sauce a particularly smooth deliciousness. This improves after a day or two in the fridge, and also freezes well.

  22. Robert Kahwaty

    Sounds amazing and I will try it when the locusts descend, um I mean when the family visits. Only problem is that I need to know how to increase the ingredient proportions for 20 people. Help!

    Make three of them? Or make two of them with lots of sides. ~Elise

  23. Greg Sanders

    Would this work with say a 10lb sirloin roast and a bottle of Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages (which I almost always have on hand)?

  24. Gary Westcott

    This was great! Did vary by using 2 cups beef stock made from base and 2 cups good red wine we had left over from last night. Also used a small amount of Wondra flour to very slightly thicken the resulting strained jus – very slightly. We could have just drunk the sauce that was left over, but decided to use it with the leftovers tomorrow night and then freeze whatever ( if any) is left after that. 5 star recipe! Thanks for putting it up.

  25. Timbo

    This was fantastic! Used a good bottle of Italian Red Zinfandel (Luccarelli Primitivo) and didn’t bother straining the liquid before hitting it with an immersion blender.

    I received rave reviews for this.

  26. Rose

    What I want to know is how you keep the beef hot while making the sauce? I can’t imagine that tenting the beef is enough to keep the beef hot while all that reducing and blending is going on.

    It keeps it warm enough. ~Elise

  27. Sabrina

    This sounds great, I have a perfect sized bit of beef in the freezer waiting for this recipe. One question though on ingredient replacement… my husband hates celery! I understand why its in this recipe, the flavours would work well together, but i just don’t think i can sneak it past him. Any suggestions for an alternative veg that would lend a strong enough flavour?

    Really, really love this blog by the way!!

    You will not be able to taste the celery. It blends in with everything else and gets pushed through a sieve. If you absolutely cannot use celery, use parsley – stems and all, but a smaller amount than the celery which is mostly water. ~Elise

  28. Martha Wilborn

    This is delicious!!
    The sauce reminds me of a good molé…not the flavors but the construction—Lots of ingredients but no one ingredient or flavor stands out. We are eating Paleo around here and the sauce was so rich and thick we didn’t even miss the conventional, grain based thickeners. Definitely a keeper.

  29. Teri baker

    This sounds fantastic but I am allergic to red wine (not sulfites, rather the histamines or tannins)… What a shame. Anyhow, I have two questions: first, does anyone know if the tannins/histamines/etc. cook off or are instead concentrated more by cooking; and second, would white wine work also (not sure with beef) or a Bougelais? If neither, what liquid(s) would provide the richest flavor as a substitute? Thanks!

Post a comment

Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for waiting. First time commenting? Please review the Comment Policy.

Some HTML is OK. URLs are automatically converted to links. Line breaks are automatically converted to paragraphs. The following HTML tags are allowed: a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, cite, code, del, em, i, q, strike, strong