10 April 2012

classic for a reason

I feel like such a fifties housewife when I make this for dinner. And I love feeling like a fifties housewife. It means pearls and shirtdresses and tiny aproned waists. (Don't talk to me about repressed suburban drudges. I am selective in my history and I can't hear you, la la la!)

I do draw the line at cleaning the kitchen in heels, though.

Pot roast, in my opinion, is best when served with something crisp and fresh-- this will balance the savory, salty richness of the tender meat and braised vegetables. Perhaps broccoli salad (I told you I was addicted) and plain rice? Mmm . . .

I used to think that "pot roast" meant a dry hunk of beef in a dull sauce, but let me assure you, not this one. I'm always amazed at how so few ingredients can produce such a fantastic meal. It has actually become one of my favorites. Dishes like this are called classics for a reason.

And now I know what to do with a chuck roast. Lowly and cheap it may seem, but it's earned a cherished place on our menu.


Classic Pot Roast
(taken and tweaked from Pioneer Woman) 

3 tablespoons butter, coconut oil, or other high-heat cooking fat (i.e. not olive oil!)
1 large yellow onion, cut into eighths
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 3-4 lb chuck roast*
kosher salt and black pepper
a few sprigs of fresh thyme and/or rosemary**
1/2 cup red cooking wine

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grab a Dutch oven, or any other heavy pan with a lid (oven safe); it should be big enough to hold the roast and vegetables. I use a stainless steel pan of approximately 12-inch diameter and 4-inch depth.
2) Heat 2 tablespoons cooking fat in pan over medium-high, until hot and shimmering. Toss in the onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Let sear for 30 seconds, then stir to expose other sides to heat; continue to sear and stir vegetables until nicely browned on several sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
3) Prepare roast. Don't trim the excess fat away; just sprinkle it liberally with kosher salt and black pepper. Melt remaining tablespoon of fat in pan and sear roast on all sides, as you did with the vegetables. Remove from pan and set aside.
4) Deglaze pan with wine, scraping to loosing browned bits from the bottom. (You may have some smoke alarm action here. I always do. Open the window and carry on.)
5) Place roast back into the pan and arrange vegetables around it. Add fresh herbs and cover tightly with lid. Place in oven for 4 hours, or until fork-tender. I like to remove the meat and vegetables to a platter and put the pan back on the burner, bring it to a boil, and reduce to an intensely flavored gravy.

*A grassfed roast will of course be leaner than one from a CAFO steer, but it still turns out very tender with this method.
**Half the time I don't have fresh herbs around so I use dried instead. Works great.

Shared on Simple Lives Thursday.

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