4 lbs. boneless chuck roastcut into 2 inch squares

2 onions, one quartered, one minced

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

8 fresh thyme sprigs

1 fresh rosemary sprig

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. black pepper

12 garlic cloves, minced

4 orange peel strips (each 1/2 inch wide)

1 bottle zinfandel or hearty burgundy

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup salt pork, minced

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour

1 cup water

1 can Italian tomatoes (14 oz. size), sliced

2 cups Portabella mushrooms, coarsely chopped

16 oz. penne pasta, cooked al dente

1 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Chopped parsley for garnish

First off, cut the chuck roast into 2-inch squares, taking care to trim away any large pieces of fat. Then place the meat into a large glass, plastic, or ceramic bowl (or into a gallon size Zip-Loc bag.)

Next, quarter one onion and add it to the meat, along with the carrots, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, half of the salt, half of the pepper, half of the garlic, and the orange peels. Then pour the wine and the balsamic vinegar over everything and toss it thoroughly to mix and cover all the ingredients. At this point, seal off the meat mix and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours).

Now, when you're ready to cook, drop the salt pork into a heavy, cast iron Dutch oven that is large enough to hold all of the ingredients and fry down the pork over medium-low heat until it releases its fat (which should take about 5 minutes or so). Then discard the crumbled pork pieces and immediately drop into the pot the diced onion and minced garlic that remains. Now saute the onions until they turn clear (they don't have to brown), and as soon as they do remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Next, drain the meat and pat it as dry as possible with absorbent paper towels (but save the marinade). Then, a few pieces at a time, add the meat to the Dutch oven (but don't crowd them so that they can sear to seal in their juices). You want to take your time to saute the pieces for about 6 minutes or so, turning them once or twice. The beef will darken but it won't truly 'brown.' That's okay, though-simply remove it from the Dutch oven with a slotted spoon and set it aside with the seasoning mixture.

At this point it's time to add the flour to the pot and cook it until it browns (be sure to keep stirring it so that it doesn't lump and burn). Then increase the heat to high, slowly pour in the rest of the marinade that you saved and deglaze the pot, scraping up any bits that cling to the bottom. Now return the onions, the garlic, the meat, and the meat juices to the pot, add the remaining salt and pepper, the water, the can of tomatoes, and the mushrooms, and bring everything to a near boil. But when it reaches that stage, reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer the daube for about 3 hours or until it can be cut easily with a spoon and the liquid has thickened.

Finally, when you're ready to eat, place a mound of hot pasta into a serving dish and ladle over it, directly from the pot, the daube and the sauce it cooked in. All that's left is to shake on a little extra salt and pepper or a pre-blended beef seasoning if you need it, and top it all off with a garnish of Romano cheese and minced parsley.


Chef's Notes:

The beef can be successfully marinated in a gallon-size plastic zipper bag. First put all the marinade ingredients into the bag then drop the meat into the marinade and toss everything around well.

The orange strips should consist of only the zest part of the orange, not the pithe. Using either a paring knife or a fillet knife can easily separate the two.

Feel free to use another kind of mushroom in place of the Portabellas. Common white buttons, shitakes, and Italian crimini will substitute nicely.