Brasato means braised beef. The best part about the recipe “Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” is that it is an easy and slow cooker recipe.
This meat dish is delicious on a cold winter evening. Springtime is not really the season for a beef stew. But when it’s cold and rainy outside it is the perfect food to warm you up a bit!
There are many recipes of braised beef, but when preparing an outstanding brasato it is important to have high quality meat and good wine.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
What kind of wine would you recommend to use in beef stew?
I prefer a full bodied, robust red wine such as the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
This wine gives a very special aroma to the meat.
For this delicious recipe I use the perfect Chianina beef. This meat is expensive, but it is a very healthy meat and low in cholesterol.
Chianina is probably the oldest breed of cattle in Italy. Did you know that? This animal is also called the giant white cow “gigante bianco”.
Chianina farm Fierli
The homeland of the white Chianina cow is the Valdichiana area. The Fierli family is a four generations farm in Foiano della Chiana. A small town located between Cortona and Montepulciano. Today the family keeps 200 Chianina cows on 100 hectares of agriculture land.
Cecilia is member of the family Fierli. She came up with the rich, warm stew recipe “il brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano”. Guanciale di Chianina cheek in Vino Nobile wine.
The cheek is a hard working muscle that needs to be cooked very slow. It takes hours before the meat is tender, but it is worth waiting for!
Besides guanciale di Chianina and Vino Nobile wine other necessary ingredients for this dish are olive oil, soffritto, salt and pepper.
A soffritto is the Italian cooking base for sauces, soups, stews and many more. It is an aromatic mix of onion, carrots and celery.
Besides the basic ingredients I add bay leaves, juniper berries, cloves and fresh rosemary. Really recommended!
It’s important to bring the meat out of the fridge a few hours before cooking. The meat must come up to room temperature.
In this recipe the marination step is not necessary.
Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 3 hours at least Serves: 2 people
450 gram of bovine cheek (Chianina) > 1/2 liter of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine
2 tablespoons extra-vergin olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 juniper berries
salt, pepper, fresh rosemary
What else do you need
How to cook
Don’t remove the fat before cooking, that gives the meat a unique flavor and texture.
Clean, wash and chop the onions, carrots and celery.
Heat the stew pot over medium-high heat. Brown the soffritto in hot olive oil. Stirring frequently. The soffritto should be cooked until dorata (golden brown).
Add the meat to the pan and season it with salt and pepper.
Pour in the wine and bring it to boil. Reduce the heat, add the bay leaves, rosemary, cloves and juniper berries.
Cover the pot and turn the meat occasionally.
Leave the meat at a low and slow temperature.
The wine will evaporate. Let the wine reduce a bit and add more wine or other liquids when necessary.
After a few hours, when the meat is tender, remove it to a carving board. Slice the meat. Before serving make sure you remove the woody herbs stems and any bay leaves.
Arrange the meat on a serving plate and pour the wine sauce on top.
What to serve with beef stew
Serve warm with mashed potatoes, polenta or roasted potatoes with rosemary.. my favorite contorno!
A delicious antipasto
Antipasto misto di Cinta Senese: coppa, capocollo and speck.
Cinta Senese is an ancient Tuscan black pig with a white belt. They live free and they have a long and good life. The cinta senese meat has a DOP classification. It is top quality meat.
The main course pairs with the high tannic red wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG.
Red wine and fatty or high-protein foods is a perfect wine and food pairing.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wine is an outstanding wine in the Tuscany region, available on my wine webshop.
Watch this video recipe to see how to cook il Brasato al Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!
Pici is a local pasta specialty from the province of Siena. It is a thick hand rolled pasta made from flour and water. Pici Toscani are similar to fat spaghetti.
The local people from Montepulciano “i poliziani” eat pici quite often. Since I moved here, I only eat pici. This pasta is amazing. So delicious!
Normally I buy fresh pici in the supermarket. It is a 300 gram packet, just enough for two meals. They are fresh and can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Obviously dried pici are available as well in grocery stores, but I prefer the fresh homemade variety!
Le vongole veraci
I don’t live near the beach, but I eat fish regularly. Fish is one of my favorite dishes.
There are different types of clams. They live in the Mediterranean and Adriatic sea. On the Italian coast you find a wide range of good restaurants where they serve the best fish and fresh seafood.
In Italy we eat plenty of fish. I personally always prefer the clams “vongole veraci” for my pasta. This shellfish is bigger and they give an essential “sea” taste to the primo piatto.
A primo piatto can be a risotto or a pasta dish.
Pici alle vongole is my personal recipe. I enjoy to experiment with different flavors and herbs. For the best pasta recipes I often ask locals, or I check out various recipe websites. Mostly I use the website of Giallo Zafferano.
I always put emotion and love in a dish, cooking is one of my greatest hobby. Besides wine tasting and running of course.
There are rules about Italian food that Italian follow and I respect that. Also the wine is important because the meal I prepare must pair with the wine I choose. It’s important to have a balance between the food and the wine.
I pici alle vongole
Recipe for 1 persoon
1 clove garlic Remove the skin, place the flat side of the knife over it and press down.
1 fresh red chilly Chop the chilly into small pieces. How many chilly pieces you want to use for your pasta depends on how spicy you prefer to eat.
150 gram pasta i pici
100 ml white wine Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC
300 gram vongole veraci Normally 250 gram is enough, but if you love vongole, the more the better.
half a bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley chop the parsley
extra vergine olive oil two table spoons of olio Italiano
Bring the water to boil in a pot.
Scrub the clams clean. They are unlikely to have sand in them. But to be sure that they are all clean and healthy I recommend to clean them.
Put two table spoons of olive oil into the hot saucepan. Add the garlic and some slices of chilly. Swirl a few seconds and make sure that the garlic doesn’t get too brown.
Pour in the white wine and bring it to boil. Then add the clams and increase heat to high. Cover and cook the clams until they are open. This will take at least 6 minutes.
After the water for the pasta has started to boil I add some salt. Cook the pici al dente. The recommended cooking time on the pasta package is 10-12 minutes. I always prefer having the pasta al dente.
Meanwhile keep on stirring with a spatula. Add the pici to the pan with clams, cook over high heat, tossing constantly, until pasta is al dente and has soaked up some of the sauce.
Remove the garlic, add the parsley and some pasta water if the sauce seems dry.
Serve your pici alle vongole directly while its hot.
PS: to pour the wine in the pan before the vongole is a recommendation from a fish market vendor in Montepulciano.
Can I store the pici alle vongole in the refrigerator?
You can store the pici alle vongole for maximum one day in the refrigerator, but it’s not recommended. Le vongole should be eaten fresh and immediately with the pasta.
During the Easter holidays the whole of Italy was classified “red” from 3 – 5 April. In a red zone it is prohibited to leave your hometown except for work and health reasons.
Over the Easter period we were allowed to visit friends and families in their homes with a maximum of two visitors at a time.
Tuscany will remain under the heaviest restrictions until April 20, as I read in a newspaper. The infections are not declining.
Last Saturday I went for a bike ride and pizza dinner with my friends. It’s been weeks since we met. We’re not seeing each other often these days because we do not live in the same municipality. I live in Montepulciano. My friends have a house in Montallese and in Chiusi. Two towns in Tuscany.
Pizza is a social food. A food for family and friends. I never make a frozen pizza at home. For me a pizza is to be eaten at a pizzeria. It must be eaten immediately after it comes out of pizza oven and must be made by an expert!
Our friend in Montallese has recently installed a wood fired pizza oven in his garage. He prepared for us a variety of pizzas. Gianfranco is an Italian pizza chef!
I had a great dinner and I really enjoyed the pizzas. It has been a long time since I have had a so good pizza. Too long…
Pizza with spinach
Pizza with truffle
Pizza with anchovies
Pizza with wurstel
The nationwide curfew from 10 PM till 5 AM is still active. In Italy we usually eat late, around 8 – 9 PM. With the current rules we eat a little earlier.
Online wine tasting
I have celebrated Easter at my home in Montepulciano.
I’ve had a fabulous evening with American people. Together we’ve tasted -virtually- some nice Tuscan wines from the winery Gattavecchi.
Pici pasta are thick homemade spaghetti. In Italy it is a first course. The pasta is also known as Pici Senesi. They are originally from southern Tuscany around Siena. Hence the name Pici Senesi.
In Montalcino they are called “i pinci”. Montalcino is a hill town and comune in the province of Siena.
It is not difficult to make fresh pasta i pici. Still me, as a foreigner in Italy, I am not used working with flour and water. I don’t have the technique of pasta making, unfortunately. I prepare more easy, healthy and quick meals.
The ingredients of the pasta dough for i pici are simple: flour, water and olive oil.
Homemade pasta i pici
With your hands flat you roll the pasta from the center outwards.
Pici is a fat and rough pasta. There are many varieties to choose among i pici:
Pici all’aglione –tomato and garlic sauce- Pici ragù –meat sauce- Pici al ragù d’anatra –duck sauce-
In supermarkets you can buy fresh pici. The pici from the supermarkets are delicious as well. I eat them often with “ai frutti di mare” (fish) or with fresh made Pesto Genovese.
Of course fresh pasta tastes better, but with a little creativity and flexibility you can make the best pasta dishes at home!
Restaurant La Solita Zuppa
The owners of restaurant La Solita Zuppa are Andrea with his wife Lorella Casagni. Andrea is a top chef and sommelier. La Solita Zuppa is a Slow Food restaurant in Chiusi città, the old town.
La Solita Zuppa offers traditional dishes. On the menu you can choose from many pasta dishes with typical and local ingredients.
Every morning they make their own fresh pasta. When I visited La Solita Zuppa Andrea had prepared the pasta dough for me to roll out.
It was a nice thing to do! For a moment I felt like an Italian “mamma” with many pasta making experience.
Having dinner at restaurant La Solita Zuppa is perfect for an evening of typical Tuscan plates. The atmosphere is cosy. The service is friendly and professional.
I pici al tartufo bianco
The dishes they offer are delicious and based on its long history and location. And if you love wine you should check out their wine list. Most of the wines are local and match excellent with the food they serve.
After weeks of lockdown they have opened their restaurant since May 27. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance. La Solita Zuppa is closed on Tuesdays.
La Solita Zuppa is famous for their Lampredotto sandwich. Lampredotto is a local Tuscan street food specialty. It is the fourth stomach of the cow. Tuscany has a tradition of eating internal organs. They use these organs to create delicious dishes with a strong and spicy flavor.
Personally I don’t like Lampredotto. It has a rich fatty texture.
But the tradition of food is important for the locals. It is a way of life and history. Most of the people in Tuscany love eating Lampredotto.
Chiusi – Siena
Chiusi is near Montepulciano. In a relaxing countryside sits the ancient city of Chiusi. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana valley and the Umbrian hills.
Chiusi città is the old town and Chiusi Scalò is the modern area.
The story of the Tuscan town Chiusi is closely linked to the Etruscans. In every corner you can breathe in the Etruscan presence and there are many details that refer to king Porsenna.
The burial place of the legendary Etruscan king Porsenna would have been beneath the town of Chiusi. As we know now, the underground routs, the labyrinths, were part of a water supply system dug by the Etruscans.
Chiusi is an appreciated city by visitors. In the ancient town you find a number of historical and archeological sites. One of the most interesting museums to visit is the “National Archeological Museum”: Museo Nazionale Etrusco. The museum reconstructs the history of Chiusi and its territory through numerous finds from the Iron Age to the Lombard age.
It is one of the most important museums in Italy for its knowledge of Etruscan art.
How do I reach Chiusi
There are different ways to get to Chiusi. By car and by train. Chiusi Scalò is an important train station. Operated by Trenitalia, from Rome and Florence are several train services.
It is very easy to find a taxi in Chiusi Scalò. There are also busses that take you from the station to the centre of Chiusi.
One of my favorite gelateria in Chiusi Scalo is Green Bar in Via Cassia Aureli I, 107. This gelateria is at walking distance from the train station.
Lago di Chiusi
Chiusi’s Lake is only 5 minutes drive from the centre of Chiusi città. You can bike and hike in this wonderful nature area. For food lovers I recommend restaurant Pesce d’Orco. They offer traditional fish “pesce di lago brustico” from the Etruscan civilization. Yummy!
Il brustico “pesce del lago”
Every year in September is a run and walk around the lake: Giro Lago di Chiusi. It is a 18k run. A nice run experience! And if you don’t run you might participate to the organized walk.