Friday, December 20, 2013

Good Ol' Pot Roast

Demi-Glace Pot Roast with Pot Roasted Vegetables and Blanched Beans
Photograph by A. Schloss
A few weeks ago Charlie Linnet wrote:"I have your books on Slow Cooker.. and Cooking Slow. I like everything you write. But in all that, how could you not have a recipe for pot roast?"At first glance I thought Charlie had uncovered a gap in the Schloss archive until I looked more closely. True, Art of the Slow Cooker has nothing called "pot roast," but it does have a brisket or two, which (being raised in the Jewish culinary empire) is the cut of pot roast I grew up on. 

And in Cooking Slow there's a recipe for Hanger Steak Slow Baked in its own Demi-Glace, page 65, which Bonnie S. Benwick calls a "succulent masterpiece" in her review in the Washington Post. It is a phenomenal way of getting true restaurant-chef results with hardly any work, and its magic is easily converted into a pot roast. All I did was switch from hanger steak to chuck roast and cut the vegetables in bigger chunks. Bigger pieces means more cooking time to extract the same amount of flavor so I upped the oven sojourn from 6 to 8 hours.

I also added potatoes to make it more of a one-pot meal. Unfortunately potatoes won't fully tenderize at the low temperatures that are optimum for beef, so I chose to give them a head start in a pot of boiling water. Not a big deal, but it is another brief step and takes another pot, so I thought I had better give you a heads up. 

In addition I found a recipe for Sweet-and-Sour Pot Roast  on page 102 of Cooking Slow that is cooked in a slow cooker, which I have reinvented for braising in a low oven. I think it is even better. I served it over farfalle pasta with a side of blanched broccoli rabe sauteed with bacon.  

My improvisations follow. Thanks, Charlie!

Demi-Glace Pot Roast Set-Up
Floured Chuck Roast in center
Counterclockwise, starting at 9 o'clock - oil, onions, carrots, celery, red wine, beef broth, tomato paste
Photograph by A. Schloss

Demi-Glace Pot Roast (Variation on Hanger Steak Slow Baked in its Own Demi-Glace, page 65, Cooking Slow)

Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup/30 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
Pinch of ground cloves
4 lb/1.8 kg beef chuck roast
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, cut in chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch/2.5 cm chunks
2 celery stalks, peeled, 1/2 inch/1.25 cm slice
1/2 cup/120 ml dry red wine
1 cup/240 ml beef broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound/340 g fingerling potatoes
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 190°F/90°C.

Stir the flour, salt, pepper, thyme, and cloves together on a sheet of aluminum foil. Dust the chuck roast with the flour mixture, and set aside any remaining flour mixture.

In a large Dutch oven over high heat, heat 1 tbsp of the oil. When the oil is hot, add the beef and sear to brown nicely on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the pot and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining flour mixture and stir to coat everything with the flour. Cook until the flour browns lightly, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the broth and tomato paste, and stir while the liquid comes to a boil. Return the meat to the pan along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Cover and bake until the meat is fork-tender, 8 to 10 hours.

About an hour (or more, if more convenient) before the pot roast is done bring a medium saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil gently until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and add to the pot roast pot. 

When you are ready to eat, transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. If the liquid in the pan is thin put over a high burner and boil until lightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring as needed to keep the bottom from sticking. Stir in the parsley.  

Cut the meat in 1/2 inch/1.25 cm thick slices and arrange on a platter, surrounded by the vegetables and a hefty bath of sauce.

Sweet-&-Sour Pot Roast (Variation on Sweet-and-Sour Pot Roast, page 102, Cooking Slow)

Sweet-&-Sour Pot Roast in Process
Browned Chuck Roast, Combine Liquids (V-8, apple juice, cider vinegar), Browned Vegetables, Brown Sugar
Photograph by A. Schloss
Makes 6 to 8 servings

3 tbsp BBQ seasoning, like Chef Salt Bacon BBQ
or 2 tbsp sweet paprika, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper, 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
3 lb/1.4 kg boneless chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut in 1 inch/2.5 cm chunks
1 celery stalk, peeled, 1/2 inch/1.25 cm slice
1 cup/240 ml vegetable cocktail juice, such as V-8
1/2 cup/120 ml apple juice
1/3 cup/75 ml apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup/120 g brown sugar

Rub the seasoning all over the meat and set aside for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°F/95°C.

Heat 1 tablespoon/15 ml of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the roast on all sides, starting fatty-side down. Transfer to a plate; set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoon/15 ml of oil to the frying pan. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the vegetable juice, apple juice, vinegar, and brown sugar, and bring to a boil. Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have collected on the plate. Cover and cook in the oven until fork tender, 6 to 10 hours, depending on your schedule.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board. Skim and discard the fat from the surface of the juices in the pot. Heat the juices on high until lightly thickened, about 5 minutes, while the meat rests. Slice the roast against its grain and arrange overlapping on a large platter. Ladle enough sauce over top to moisten; serve remaining sauce on the side.

Sweet-&-Sour Pot Roast, Farfalle with Gravy, Bacony Rabe
Photograph by A. Schloss