Makes 6 servings. Difficulty
2 Tablespoons olive oil 1 3lb. boneless chuck roast Salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped 3 large shallots, finely chopped 1 medium carrot, finely chopped 2 celery ribs, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, minced 4 sprigs of fresh thyme 1 sprig of fresh rosemary 1 sprig of fresh oregano 2 Tablespoons tomato paste 2 cups full-bodied red wine such as a Côtes du Rhône 2 cups water
Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 325°F.
Heat the oil in a 4-5 qt heavy pot (make sure it is oven-proof and is accompanied by a lid) over medium high heat until hot but not smoking.
Meanwhile, pat the meat dry and season on all sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Transfer the roast to a plate using a fork and tongs.
Add the pancetta to the pot and sauté over medium high heat until browned and the fat is rendered. Add the shallots, carrots and celery and sauté until the vegetables are softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and oregano sprigs and continue to sauté for about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the water and bring to a simmer, then return the roast to the pan along with any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and transfer to the oven. Braise until the meat is very tender, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
Transfer the roast to a carving board. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce and discard the herb stems. Boil the sauce until reduced by about one third, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cut the meat against the grain into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the meat slices in the sauce and turn to coat. Serve.
This goes wondefully over polenta or mashed potatoes.