Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Pot Roast!

By Julie

Pot roast, that all-American of American foods. Never before had it. Pretty darn good, gotta say. It's similar to beef stew, I guess, but still, I needed to make it. We just finished up a weekend where the high temp on Friday almost reached 70 degrees. Now we've gone in the opposite direction and tomorrow will be a high of like 0 degrees. It seemed fitting to start the quick decline with a warming, wintery food. Roasts like this are also a great way to wrap up a Sunday. They don't require a whole lot of preparation, and the cooking time lends itself well to getting little chores done around the house.

If you're really on top of the ball, you can do this roast in a slow cooker. It's so nice to start it first thing in the morning and have dinner ready whenever you're hungry. I think I'll probably do this next time I make this recipe. Or, start it the night before and have a great breakfast! The veggies in this recipe are really versatile. I improvised a little based on what was available at the grocery store. What I'd stick to is root vegetables, however. This way you can ensure more even cooking. If you want to use softer veggies, you'll have to add them in at a later time, unless you're using a slow cooker where the everything will kind of end up the same texture anyway. Some root vegetables that would also be great are rutabagas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, yams, kohlrabi, etc. Celery root is a wonderful vegetable. Like a lightly celery flavored potato. YUM. Oh, and winter squash would be great! I wouldn't recommend beets, unless you're going to cook this for Valentine's Day...

The chuck roast I used was really more of a thick chuck steak. I don't know why it wasn't more of a hunk of beef. That's just how the store was selling them. It actually turned out a little on the tough side, but it was still really good. If you can, get an actual hunk. You can easily double this recipe too, just adjust the cooking time.

pot roast

adapted from Bon Appétit

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, tied (if a hunk)
4 pieces of thick bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
2 large onions, thinly sliced
6 small shallots, peeled, cut in half if they're kind of big
6 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped in half if they're kind of big
3 bay leaves
4-5 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 small parsnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small celery root, or celeriac, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 turnip, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl. Rub spice blend all over beef.

2. Cook the bacon pieces in an ovenproof pot over medium heat until brown and crispy. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel on a plate to drain.

3. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from pot. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and cook until browned on all sides (or both sides, as was the case for me), about 8 minutes total. Transfer beef to plate.

4. Add red wine to pot; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bacon. Place beef atop bacon. Scatter onions, shallots, garlic, and bay leaves around beef.

5. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and roast 30 minutes.

6. Transfer beef to a plate. Add carrots, parsnips, celery root, and turnip and stir to coat. Return beef to pot, nestling it in the veggies and sauce. Cover and roast 1 hour longer, adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if dry.

7. Transfer beef to platter. Spoon off fat from surface of sauce. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve beef with sauce and vegetables.

Notes on using a slow cooker:

Follow the first 4 steps, except no need to preheat oven or to use a large ovenproof pot. After red wine has reduced, add it to the slow cooker along with the meat, bacon, broth, and all the vegetables. On low, cook for about 8 hours. On high, 4 to 6 hours.

Enjoy this cozy winter dish! We've got a long way to go before spring, so might as well live it up. Go out and enjoy a day in the snow if you're in one of those hard hit areas and come home to have this for dinner.

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