If you are like me, as the season begins to change you suddenly realize that it is imperative to cook some of those ingredients stored in the freezer before it is too late. By too late I mean not only will the ingredients go bad, but let’s be realistic: if the second turkey purchased around the holidays (it was such a good deal!) is not eaten now, it is unlikely to be eaten in the middle of the summer.
It was with this issue in mind that I decided to make pot roast the other night. Since the Chicago weather has really cooperated with me and remained at arctic temperatures (you think I’m kidding) pot roast turned out to be a lovely early spring meal.
Nothing beats the delicious homeyness of pot roast. That said, I am finding pot roast cuts increasingly difficult to find and wonder if this meal is becoming a bit of a has-been. Too bad, since it certainly is a nice treat.
I usually rely on a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Foods which features tomatoes as a main ingredient. This time I decided to try a recipe from a new favorite cook book of mine, All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking by Molly Stevens. This cookbook tells it like it is and Stevens provides practical tips on how to shop for and select good cuts of meat.
If you take anything away from this recipe, it’s the technique of covering the roast with parchment paper after it has been braised and before it is put in the oven to slow roast. According to Stevens, this step traps the moisture in the pot by reinforcing the lid’s seal and reducing any space in the pot.
Clearly, all that trapped moisture went right into this pot roast and gave it lots of flavor. The roast was moist, the vegetables were meaty, and all together it was well worth the effort.
Yankee Pot Roast, adapted from Molly Stevens All About Braising
4 lbs. beef chuck roast
course salt and freshly ground pepper
3 t olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 t dried thyme
3 whole cloves
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 C dry white wine
1 C beef or chicken stock
3 whole carrots, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch lengths
Preheat the oven to 300. Season roast with salt and pepper and allow to rest about 15-20 minutes.
Heat a Dutch oven (or other large heavy pot), over medium high heat until the pot is hot. Heat oil in pot and add seasoned roast with tongs. Sear on each side about 4-5 minutes until the surface of the meat is browned. Remove roast and set aside. Add wine to pot and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the bottom. Continue to boil until reduced by half, about 3-4 minutes. Add stock and bring to boil. Return pot roast and any accumulated liquid to the pot and add garlic, onion and the herbs.
Cover the roast with parchment paper, pressing paper down so that the paper touches the meat and the edges extend over the sides of the pot. Cover with lid.*
Roast in oven for about 45 minutes and then turn the roast with tongs. Cook for another 45 minutes. Turn roast again and add carrots.** Cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours (for a total of about 3 hours) until the meat is tender and the vegetables are easily pierced with a knife.
*Don’t despair if you do not have a lid for your pot. Simply cover with tinfoil after the parchment paper.
**Stevens suggests you also add a half pound of peeled red potatoes and a half a pound of small turnips, peeled and quartered. I opted for only carrots because there wasn’t enough room in the pot.