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Apr 19, 2007 07:50 AM

Sub for Vin Santo in braised beef recipe?

I have a brasato al midollo (boned beef shank "stuffed" with the shank marrow, rosemary, and black pepper) that I'm going to be braising with shallots. One rather loosey goosey recipe I've found for this type of roast calls for braising with Vin Santo. I'm wondering if there are more commonly available wines that might serve as adequate substitutes. Any advice you might have would be appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. Vin Santo is an Italian sweet dessert wine. If you really want that sweetness, you could stubstitute a sweet Port (Ruby). My preference would be for a more savory flavor; however, I did a web search and found the dish you're trying to make.The recipe definitely calls for Vin Santo added at the end of the long braise.

    Incidentally, I've included a link since the article I located includes a very specific recipe with precise ingredients.

    Finally, I don't know where you live, but I suspect you'd be able to buy Vin Santo in any metropolitan area liquor store. (I'm a particular fan of Reddi brand Vin Santo.) In addition, if you have an authentic Italian restaurant in your area, phone them and see if they have any Vin Santo sources. Still, Ruby port will make an acceptable substitute.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Indy 67

      Perfeto! That's exactly what I needed. The only recipe I could dig up is in Italian. Near as I can tell, the one you linked is very similar, but more detailed. I'll check around to see what if any of our local wine shops carry Vin Santo. If I strike out, I'll go with the port suggestion. Thanks again!

    2. Well, shoot, it's just a 1/2 cup Vin Santo. You could substitute sweet Marsala, tawny port,
      or's a stretch I know...1/2 cup white wine and a tablespoon of honey. (But mix them together first.) Best if you make the brasato with the Vin Santo, and then enjoy the rest of the Vin Santo with dessert. Traditionally, you dunk biscotti into it. It will keep opened for some time.

      Indy 67's link (good research by the way) is to a Dario Cecchini recipe. He's really something (was in his butcher shop once), and I'm tempted to make the dish just because it comes from his restaurant. Oh, the recipe is Tuscan in origin so naturally the dessert wine called for is (the also Tuscan) Vin Santo. Try the Avignonesi Vin Santo (expensive) sometime if you can.

      1 Reply
      1. re: maria lorraine

        Thanks! I'll be sure to report back.

      2. If you discover you like the taste of cooking with Vin Santo, here's a second recipe for you.

        Here's some background: I was looking through my old food magazines trying to locate the article in which Mario Battali and his staff visit Emilia-Romagna and eat themselves silly. We'll be in Emilia-Romagna soon. We hope to do a lot more sightseeing than did Mario, but we'd love to hit some of Mario's destinations. (I never located the article. If anyone can chime in about an on-line version of the article or simply list the names of the restaurants in the article, I'd appreciate it greatly.)

        The recipe is described as an adaptation of a recipe that Dario Cecchini shares with his clients at his butcher's shop. (BON APPETIT, May 2005)

        Copyright note: I've listed BON APPETIT as the source of this recipe. However, I have revised the language in the instructions to keep everything legit with respect to posting this recipe publicly.

        Veal Roasted with Shallots, Fennel, and Vin Santo

        1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
        1 tablespoon dried thyme
        1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
        4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
        1 (3 1/4 lb) boneless veal shoulder roast
        2 pounds shallots, thinly sliced
        7 1/2 cups thinly sliced fresh fennel (from 3 large bulbs)
        1 (500 ml) bottle Vin Santo
        1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

        Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first three ingredients in a small bowl. Use 1 tablespoon of the oil to rub over the meat. Then rub meat with the salt mixture.

        Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-weight pot over medium-high heat. Add meat to the pot and brown will on all sides. Remove meat from pot and set aside.

        Add remaining olive oil along with the shallots and fennel to the same pot. Saute until the vegetables are golden, stirring well. Scrape browned bits from te bottom of the cooking pan. (This step will take about 12 minutes.) Add Vin Santo to the vegetables in the pan and boil 3 minutes. Return veal roast to the pot making certain that vegetables are placed both underneath and above the meat. Cover. Roast until the internal temperature of the veal is 165 degrees. This will take about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

        Transfer veal to a serving platter. Add fresh thyme to the vegetables still remaining in the cooking pan. Season cooking liquid with additional salt and pepper. To plate: spoon vegetables and cooking liquid alongside the roast.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Indy 67

          Wow. Thanks for digging up yet another wonderful looking recipe.

          The brasato turned out great. The stock, marrow, and connective tissue in the shank all came together to give the resulting "sauce" an amazing richness. The subtle sweetness of the slow-roasted shallots combined with that of the Vin Santo just put it over the top. Serving this marvelous dish was a great way to pay our friends for helping us with two big yard projects this weekend. All agreed that the brasato was the best "pot roast" they'd ever tasted. ;-)

          Fortunately, we all had a taste of the Vin Santo *before* dinner, because after the meal we were all so pooped from sawing and digging that we couldn't muster the energy to stay awake for dessert. Given that we were buying it primarily for cooking and the fact that we are Vin Santo rookies, we went for the lowest-priced bottle in the shop ($25 / 500 ml). It was quite good, but I had the sense that it could have had more depth and complexity. Once we polish this one off, I'll be sure to try one from the other 4 labels that our local source carries.

          Thanks again to you, Indy and to you too, Marie!