Sunday, February 9, 2014

ChezCindy: Beef Pot Roast...a Perfect Winter Meal

When the weather forecast calls for big snow, many of us scurry to stop at the grocery store to pick up bread, milk and other basic necessities.  Be sure to include a big chuck roast and plan on enjoying a perfect winter meal. 

The pot roast recipe I use is truly basic.  But, by following a few tips you will create a perfect pot roast dinner. 

Use a heavy bottomed oven pan with a tight-fitting lid.  My go to is Le Creuset.  Expensive, but worth it.  A solid cast iron oven pan with a lid that seals in the moisture is a must-have for any braising meal. 

Deeply brown the meat.  Take your time with this step as this always takes longer than you might think.  Browning provides the depth of flavor and makes great gravy.  Deeply brown on all sides.

Add a bit of acid once the meat is brown.  I use a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, plus a half cup of red wine.  This will deglaze the bits of brown goodness that have crusted on the bottom of the pan.  The acidity balances out the richness of the fatty meat. 

Add enough liquid to come up 2/3 of the way up the sides of the meat.  Never cover the meat completely.  You can use water, wine or stock.

Cover with the tight-fitting lid, and slow roast for 2-3 hours, turning the meat over a few times during the braising time.  Again, take your time with this step.  This is where the braising magic happens.

Perfect Pot Roast
1 3 to 4 pound boneless chuck roast
Salt & ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup of coarsely chopped onions
1 cup of coarsely chopped carrots
1 cup of coarsely chopped celery
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry red wine
4 cups beef stock
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the roast dry and season with salt and pepper.  Working with a heavy bottomed oven pan, heat the oil over medium high heat; add the seasoned roast to the pan.  Deeply brown on all sides, about 20 - 25 minutes.  Once completely browned, transfer the roast to a plate; set aside. 

Add the chopped onions, carrots and celery to the pan, cook until the vegetables begin to brown, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the sprigs of thyme and tomato paste, cooking about 2 minutes.  Add in the red wine vinegar and the dry red wine.  Cook until the wine is reduced in volume by half. 
Place the roast back into the pan, including any juices that have collected on the plate.  Add in enough beef stock to come up 2/3 of the way up the sides of the meat.  Cover with the pan lid; place in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 to  3 hours.  During the braising time, turn the roast over 2-3 times .  If the liquid reduces while cooking, add an additional 1/2 cup of broth or water to the pan. 

Remove from the oven, transfer the roast to a plate covering loosely with foil.  Strain the liquid from the pan into a large bowl.  Discard the vegetables as they have given up all of their goodness.  Pour the liquid back into the roasting pan.  Place over medium high heat, bringing to a boil.  In a small bowl, mix together the soft butter and the flour to form a paste.  Whisk about half of the butter paste into the boiling liquid, whisking vigorously until the paste is dissolved into the liquid.  Continue adding more of the butter paste until the liquid has thickened into a glossy gravy. 

Serve the pot roast with roasted vegetable, mashed potatoes and biscuits for a hearty winter meal.

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