Langhe e Roero Secondo: Birra Brasati Costatine con Grappa Smalto
Week 3 Challenge: La Carne e il Secondo (Meat in the Second Course)
We’re on to week 3 in this year’s food blogging/photography challenge from the Tourist Union of the Langhe and Roero (details here, in Italian). Our week 3 challenge is the Secondo course, which always means meat. Beef in the Piemonte is prized as they have a local type of cattle, the Fassone, that has a very lean but tender meat. There are a few producers in the US raising Piemontese beef cattle, but it isn’t found in Minnesota, so I’m opting to use local pasture raised, grass fed beef.
Birra Brasati Costatine con Grappa Smalto (Beer Braised Short Ribs with Grappa Glaze)
The Langhe and Roero are renowned for their wines, so why braise our short ribs in beer? On our visit to the region in May, we were traveling with our daughter Casey and her boyfriend Kevin.
They are craft beer fans, and I had heard about an emerging artisan beer culture in the region, so I did a little research. Presto! Birrificio Citabiunda is a craft brewery located in Bricco di Neive, a “suburb” of the village of Neive.
We enjoyed beer & dinner there one evening, with our expat friend Valerie, who lives in nearby Alba. I thought braising in beer would be a bit of an unusual touch, clearly retaining a tie to the Langhe & Roero.
The top wines of this region are all made from the Nebbiolo grape. With few exceptions, this is the only region in the world where Nebbiolo is grown and here it achieves greatness. Nebbiolo produces a very powerful wine with good acidity and very strong tannins, but it’s not at all heavy. Barolo is the most famous, but I can highly recommend each of the regions (Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero) as producing excellent wines well worth exploring.
Az. Agr. Voerzio Alberto Barolo 2010 (20€ at the winery in La Morra)
We had the good fortune of meeting Alberto Voerzio at his winery in La Morra in the fall of 2013. A passionate young winegrower, he is tending several small vineyard parcels in and around La Morra. He takes great care in the vineyard, using only natural products, no chemicals or herbicides. He’s related to the very famous Roberto Voerzio, but Alberto is going his own way with his wines.
Eye: Clear and transparent, but a bit darker than some Barolos. Pretty, orange edge.
Nose: Red fruit and evergreen.
Mouth: Red fruit, immediately tannic, very strong. Best to enjoy with rich food.
As a 2010 vintage, this Barolo is very young with strong tannins. Not a wine for drinking on its’ own at this point, it shines with rich, meaty dishes. The tannins in the wine balance the richness of the meat, and seem to disappear. They effectively refresh and cleanse your palate and leave you ready for your next bite. While a powerful wine, it doesn’t overpower the dish and provides a perfect partner at the table.
Short Ribs Braise Ingredients Instructions Grappa Glaze Ingredients Note the glaze can also be prepared a day in advance Glaze Instructions Finishing the Dish
Birra Brasati Costatine con Grappa Smalto
(Beer Braised Short Ribs with Grappa Glaze)
Use a nice Porter for braising, unless you’re in Piemonte. In which case, the Birrificio Citabiunda MILF would do nicely.
Short Ribs Braise Ingredients
Grappa Glaze Ingredients Note the glaze can also be prepared a day in advance
Finishing the Dish