(Beef braised with celery, onions and carrots)

The autumn chill continues inspiring us to hearty, warming winter-style dishes these days. Last night, I took a cheap hunk of chuck and fashioned a slight variation on another Marcella Hazan favorite. Marcella's original is a simple braise of chuck with celery and onions; I added a few sliced carrots and did a quick flour-thickening at the end to please my spouse, for whom Kentucky-style, not Italian, pot roast is one of the ultimate comfort foods.

As with all pot roasts, this one takes a while from start to finish but requires very little maintenance after you've popped it in the oven.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a black-iron dutch oven or similar heavy, oven-safe casserole, and brown a 2-pound piece of chuck, bottom round or similar boneless braising cut on all sides until it's well browned. Remove the meat briefly to a plate and pour off as much of the fat as possible from the dutch oven.

Pour in 1 cup red wine and bring it to the boil, stirring and scraping up all the good browned crunchy bits on the bottom. Put the beef back in, and add four large stalks of celery and two good-size carrots, both cut into 1/2-inch slices, two whole, peeled onions, and two or three smashed garlic cloves. Add 1 cup beef broth and salt and pepper to taste; bring to a simmer, cover, and place in a 350F oven for two hours or until the beef is very tender.

Remove the beef to a serving platter. Thicken the liquid over low heat with 2 tablespoons flour completely dissolved in 2 or 3 tablespoons warm water; when it's thick and cooked sufficiently to remove any raw flour taste, pour the resulting "gravy" over the meat and serve.

This would be awfully good with the sauce and vegetables over pasta, but my wife wanted baked taters. It was good with them, too.