Wine and food pairing has always been one of my favorite things. Last night the stars were aligned and I got it right. The problem I had to solve was pairing with highly reduced tomatoes in a stew or sugo. Stews that are intended to break down meat in the oven for a long period of time and are tomato based, can yield quite acidic results, so, the wine should not be overly tannic. I made up a version of Parpadelle Con Stracotto and wanted a wine that had enough fruit and mellow tannins to be a perfect foil for the somewhat acidic reduction. California Sangiovese seemed to be the perfect thing, but I had none in my cellar. I usually have at least some of the great ones from Benessere in there, but no such luck. I was, however, fortunate enough to find some great Cal-Ital Sangiovese at the Wine Thieves in Lafayette and from one of my favorite producers. It's made by Jim Moore and my friend, Mel Knox (barrel broker to the stars). I wrote about the Nebbiolo from L'Uvaggio back in 2006 and there is a good intro to Jim and Mel's background are.
This wine is at its peak right now, I would say. The fruit has taken on some nice earthiness but it's still very fresh and juicy. It's just the right density to accompany red pasta dishes or pizzas. Recommended now.
Parpadelle Con Stracotto (Corkdork style)
2 small beef short ribs (bone-in)
2 lbs. boneless chuck roast
3 small carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1-1/2 med. onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
1/4 lb. pancetta, diced
2-28oz. cans whole tomatoes (I use San Marzano) Chopped with 2 knives
1-1/2 lbs. Pasta sheets
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Render the pancetta in a few Tbs. of good olive oil in a big enamel cassarole until it is lightly browned and most of the fat is in the pan. Remove all with a slotted spoon, leaving fat. Brown the short ribs all over and remove. Brown chuck roast on all sides. Remove. Drain all the fat out of the cassarole, making sure to get all the small burned bits out. Add a few more Tbs. of olive oil and sauté the carrots, celery, and onions (that trio is called odori in Italian) until it begins to take on a little color. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook just until the garlic releases its scent. Return the meat to the pan and bury it in the vegetables. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a simmer. Put in the oven for 2-1/2 hours until the meat is fork tender. Remove meat to a platter. Discard bones and any large bits of beef fat. Carefully spoon off as much of fat from the sauce as you can and return the cassarole to the stove. Shred the beef into strings, removing as much fat as you can. Return to the sauce and simmer for an additional 30 to 45 minutes until the meat is integrated.
Meanwhile bring your pasta water to a boil and generously salt. Roll the pasta sheets into a tube and cut pasta into strips about 1/2 wide. Boil for around 3 minutes until just tender.Drain. Remove about half of the sauce and reserve. Toss the hot pasta in the sauce and add just enough of the reserved sauce to coat the pasta. Serve with the best grated Parmigiano you can find.