Spiced Portuguese-Style Pot Roast with Bacon, Onions, and White Wine

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Don't be surprised by the number of onions in this beloved Portuguese dish. The meat needs to be completely surrounded by aromatic slivers of onions, so that when it's done, both beef and onions are rich, smoky, slightly spiced, and bathed in a thin but intensely flavorful sauce. A good way to savor the juices is to serve generous helpings of rice in shallow bowls, spoon the meat and onions over it, and then ladle on lots of sauce.

Cooking Method:
Roasting Roasting
Servings :
4 - 6
  • Ingredients
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    3 tbsp. unsalted butter
    8 oz. Applewood Smoked Bacon, cut into pieces about 1 inch long, 1/4 inch wide, and 1/4 inch thick
    Kosher or Sea Salt
    1 (3 to 4 lb.) Lobel's Wrangler USDA Prime Pot Roast cut crosswise into 4 equal steaks
    6 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
    12 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    20 allspice berries
    1/4 tsp. Nirmala's Wild Fire Chili Blend, or crushed red pepper flakes
    1 bay leaf
    3 cups dry white wine
    1 cup water
    2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    4 to 6 cups cooked white rice for serving


    In a 5- or 6-quart flameproof casserole or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Stir in the bacon and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy but still tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Set the bacon aside.
    Generously salt the steaks.
    Raise the heat under the pot to medium-high and cook the steaks until nicely but not heavily browned on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to another plate and set aside.
    Add the onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt into the drippings in the pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until reduced in volume and slightly softened, 6 to 8 minutes. If the moisture from the onions has not deglazed the bottom of the pot, add 1/2 cup water and scrape to loosen any browned bits. Transfer the contents of the pot to a bowl and set aside; let the pot cool.
    Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    Rub the inside of the pot with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Distribute half of the onion mixture evenly across the bottom. Lay the meat in a single layer over the onions. Scatter the allspice berries, peppercorns, chili blend, bay leaf, and half of the reserved bacon over the meat. Distribute the remaining onion mixture over the meat, completely covering it. Scatter the remaining bacon over the top and pour the wine, water, and any onion and beef juices on the plates into the pot. Add more water to just cover the solids, if necessary.
    Bring to a simmer and let bubble gently for 5 minutes. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 250°F and continue cooking until the meat is very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours more. Adjust the oven temperature as needed to maintain a very gentle simmer.
    Turn off the oven, uncover the pot, and let the stew rest in the oven for about 30 minutes to concentrate the flavors.
    Divide the meat among wide, shallow bowls. Spoon over abundant amounts of onions and broth, garnish with the parsley and serve with the rice.

Serving Suggestions:

This dish is a great showcase for Portugal's wealth of unique and affordable wines. From fresh, juicy (and unbelievably low-priced) JP Tinto Terras do Sado to the intense Caves Alianca Alianca Particular Palmela to the more full-bodied richness of Jose Maria da Fonseca and Van Zeller "Domini" from the Duero, the country offers great choices for pairing with the oniony beef in this recipe. Although the acidity levels range from moderate to low, the easygoing fruit flavors—always a food-loving trait among reds—these wines have in common make them perfect with this dish. These fruit flavors vary in intensity from one to the next, but none are "tight" or "tough" wines, and all are free of excessive tannin and wood. Even those that flash a little new wood (like the Caves Alianca Palmela) are so very good-natured that you hardly notice its presence.  Wines with more tannin made waves here. In our tastings we found the spicy, brothy nature of the braised beef and onions exaggerated the tannins, leaving a raw, bitter taste that upset the harmony of the dish. Even the medium-weight, delectable, and pleasingly tannic Luis Pato Casta Baga felt out of place, so the even more powerful (often tannic) Portuguese "high expression" wines are also best left for another meal. From California, try the juicy Bonny Doon "Clos de Gilroy," a mellow, nearly tannin-free wine made from Grenache grapes that's very much in the spirit of these Portuguese reds.