Garofolato (Roman Post Roast)

Garofolato (Roman Pot Roast)

In Lazio, secondi piatti by Frank13 Comments

Northern Italians may have their brasato, and Tuscans their stracotto, but Romans have their own version of pot roast, which they call Garofolato. The name comes from the exuberant use of cloves—garofalo in Roman dialect (vs. chiodo di garofano in standard Italian—to scent the dish. If you ask me, this may be the tastiest Italian pot roast of all. And don’t be afraid of all the cloves, they mellow considerably in the long simmer, leaving only a pleasant fragrance.

As with a Neapolitan genovese or ragù, you get an abundant and savory sauce from a garofolato. You’ll want to nap some over your meat, but most of it can serve as a dressing for pasta— fettuccine would be a typically Roman choice—either as a first course before the roast or at a another meal.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 eye round roast, or other beef cut suitable for pot roasting (see Notes), about 1.5-2 kilos (2-3 lbs)

For preparing the roast:

  • 10-12 cloves
  • Lardo, or some other fatty cured pork, q.b., for larding (optional—see Notes)

For braising:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • A splash of red wine
  • 2 bottles of passata di pomodoro, or 2 large cans of tomatoes passed through a food mill
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few more cloves (optional)
  • Lard or olive oil

Directions

The roast should be studded with the cloves at even intervals all over. Use of small paring knife to create small incisions in which the cloves can be inserted. Since the round is rather dry, it helps also to lard it with some fatty cured pork (see Notes).

In terra-cotta or enamel cast iron Dutch oven not too much bigger than the roast, brown the roast all over in the lard or olive oil. When the roast in nicely brown, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley, and season everything generously with salt and pepper. Let these aromatics sauté until they are quite soft, turning the meat so that it absorbs their flavors. Then add a good splash of red wine and let it evaporate, again turning the meat so it absorbs the wine.

Add the tomato, enough to cover (or almost cover) the roast, along with a few more cloves if you like. Cover the pot and lower the heat so the liquid gently simmers. Let the roast braise until it is tender but not falling apart—this should take about 1-1/2 or 2 hours.

Taste and adjust for seasoning. Let the roast rest off heat for a few minutes, then slice as many portions as you think you’ll need, arranging the slices on a serving platter, napping some of the sauce over them. Like any braised dish, garofolato can be made ahead and reheated when you’re ready to eat.

Garofolato (Roman Pot Roast)

Notes on Garofolato

 The classic cut of beef for making a garofolato is the girello, which corresponds (more or less) to the eye round (for US cooks) and silverside (for those in the UK). Other cuts that Italian recipes recommend include the controgirello (top round or topside) and the girello di spalla (the ‘shoulder clod’, whatever that is…) You could also use another cut from the round, such as bottom round or the rump (scamone in Italian). But since beef slaughtering practices vary so widely from country to country, it’s hard to find equivalent cuts for cooks in other countries. While not traditional and not as pretty, a chuck roast would work just fine, in my opinion, and it’s a juicier cut to boot and needs no larding.

Since the round is a tough but lean cut, it can be a challenge to cook well. It needs long, slow cooking to become tender, but it tends to dry out, so the best option when making garofolato, if you have the patience, is to lard the meat with some fatty, cured pork. Lardo is the classic choice for Romans, but it is rather expensive delicacy outside Italy, probably too expensive for most people (including me!) to use for larding. You can resort to less expensive and more easily available Italian pork products like pancetta or guanciale; in the US you could opt for domestic products like fat back or salt pork. These are cut into thin strips, which you then insert into slits you make in the sides of the roast with a small paring knife, like so:

Garofolato: Larding the roast

The process isn’t hard, but it is a bit fussy. You’ll need to open the slit a bit by poking your finger into it, then push the strip of pork into the resulting hole with your finger. Don’t worry about having a gaping hole in your roast, by some magical alchemy the roast will close around the hole as it cooks and all will be well.

Post scriptum

Apparently in the Ciociara (basically, southern Lazio) the term garofolato can refer to a kind of lamb stew, well scented with cloves, of course. Sounds very nice but I’ve never tried it myself.

Garofolato (Roman Pot Roast)

Rating: 51

Total Time: 3 hours

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 1 eye round roast, or other beef cut suitable for pot roasting (see Notes), about 1.5-2 kilos (2-3 lbs)
  • For preparing the roast:
  • 10-12 cloves
  • Lardo, pancetta or salt pork, q.b., for larding (optional)
  • For braising:
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • A splash of red wine
  • 2 bottles of passata di pomodoro, or 2 large cans of tomatoes passed through a food mill
  • Salt and pepper
  • A few more cloves (optional)
  • Lard or olive oil

Directions

  1. The roast should be studded with the cloves at even intervals all over. Use of small paring knife to create small incisions in which the cloves can be inserted. Since the round is rather dry, it helps also to lard it with some fatty cured pork (see Notes).
  2. In terra-cotta or enamel cast iron Dutch oven not too much bigger than the roast, brown the roast all over in the lard or olive oil. When the roast in nicely brown, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and parsley, and season everything generously with salt and pepper. Let these aromatics sauté until they are quite soft, turning the meat so that it absorbs their flavors. Then add a good splash of red wine and let it evaporate, again turning the meat so it absorbs the wine.
  3. Add the tomato, enough to cover (or almost cover) the roast, along with a few more cloves if you like. Cover the pot and lower the heat so the liquid gently simmers. Let the roast braise until it is tender but not falling apart—this should take about 1-1/2 or 2 hours.
  4. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Let the roast rest off heat for a few minutes, then slice as many portions as you think you'll need, arranging the slices on a serving platter, napping some of the sauce over them. Like any braised dish, garofolato can be made ahead and reheated when you're ready to eat.
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Comments

  1. Pingback: Supplì (Roman Rice Croquettes) | Memorie di Angelina

  2. have never used cloves with beef roast – pork yes. would think this would really bring excitement, a nice bloom of flavor. I sometimes remove the bud from the clove stem, cutting the bitterness, mainly in soup stocks and sauces.
    Hope your January went smoothly and your February will be a breeze! (But not too cold)

  3. Would you believe I actually posses a larding needle which I found in junk shop. Larding was very popular in the olden days when meat was roasted in front of an open fire and would easily dry out.

  4. Cloves! How wonderful! I barely use them anymore. What a lovely way to get my January comfort food and fill the home with winter-spice aroma! Looking forward to making this.

  5. I did not know this recipe and it looks/sounds good. I checked one of my big tomes on Italian cooking (Il Grande Libro della Cucina Italiana, by Alessandro Molinari Pradelli) and has a version of this which is slightly different. Ha has the meat marinating in red wine: 1 kg girello of beef + larded with 150 g lard+ 7 cloves stuck into it + 1 lt red wine like Sangiovese di Aprilia. The following day the meat is browned, added to a sliced browned onion and then covered with the marinade. It is then slow cooked.

    The title says “Umido di carne di bue”/Stewed ox…. then the recipes switches to Beef… Ox would be historically more accurate I think (basically he-cows was too precious to be killed at a young age (and become beef), they either became oxes, to help in the fields, or bulls, for reproductive purposes (in large farms I guess.. but here I stop.. because i know very little about the history of Italian cousin)

    ….interesting enough this version does not have any tomato sauce, unusual for a Central/Southern Italy stew. I go with your suggestions of alternative cuts of beef Frank. One should not be too rigid about such issues..Basically stews were made with whatever cheap cut one could get (in those rare, rare occasions when they were made/there is so much mythology about Italian regional cooking, the reality being that generations of Italians ate poorly and badly, being so poor. Meat was scarse because animals were too precious to be killed. Contemporary “traditional italian regional cooking” is, from what I have understood, a rather recent creation…)

    Cloves are commonly used in very many stews/braises in Italy (btw: in Italian cooking the two terms are often interchangeable, right or wrong that might be, culinary speaking). In Lombardy cooking (where I come from) the other spices often used are: cinnamon, black pepper and nutmeg (plus cloves).

    can I add a more modern remark on technique…? In my experience I had much better results cooking the meat in the oven, starting from a cold oven, from a Harold Mcgee’s explanation: which you can find here:
    http://tinyurl.com/q6dtm6w
    In my experience (and it might be due to my own personal inadequacy, by all means), it is much more difficult to keep a real slow simmer on top of the stove.
    I also often left the meat cooking overnite (starting the whole process at the end of my service) in a very, very, very low oven. the next morning I had the most succulent and tender meat…
    ciao
    stefano

  6. This is a new one to me Frank. I bet the cloves addition must date back to the Middle Ages. It sounds delicious and looks that way too. You have good taste in your dinnerware too. lol.

  7. This dish reminds me of Vaccinara, which I believe uses ox but, if I remember correctly, is otherwise similar – except that, oddly enough, it calls for WHITE wine. With red meat and tomatoes, no less! What do you think the reason is for that?

  8. non amo i chiodi di garofano ma se tu dici che è un buon piatto ti credo,anche le foto confermano ! Buon fine settimana Frank !

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