Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pot Roast

It's cold here in Indiana.  I think there has been snow on the ground every day except one for the past 2 months.  I love it, but my bones do not.  The electric blanket goes on the bed and the food I cook becomes much heartier.  Pot roast is one my current favorites, having grown up with it, and I enjoy cooking inexpensive cuts of meat.

I made this the first time when I was a bachelor for a week, as my wife was at a conference.  It was so good I decided to make it again for her parents while we visited them over the holidays.  And in my next post I will tell you what we did with the leftovers!
This recipe is new to me and comes from Cooks Illustrated, though slightly modified for some spice and a bit more body to the gravy.  It's a really simple roast to make, and you can use a reasonably cheap cut of beef for it as well (I used chuck roast).  Enjoy!
Pot Roast (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

1 chuck roast (top or bottom), 4 pounds
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, sliced thin
1 large carrot, chopped medium
1 celery stalk, chopped medium
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 cups beef broth
1/2 +1/4 cup red wine (for braise and sauce separately)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
salt and pepper for seasoning

Cut chuck roast in half and trim excess fat.  Season with 1 tablespoon salt, set on wire rack and let stand at room temperature for ~1 hour.  Heat oven to 300°F.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onions and cook until starting to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.  Add carrot and celery and cook 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds,  Stir in 1 cup beef broth, 1/2 up wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig and bring to simmer.

Pat beef dry and season with pepper (liberally).  Nestle meat on top of vegetables so it rests partially in the broth.  Cover pot tightly with foil and cover with lid, place in oven and cook until knife slips in and out of meat easily, 3 1/2 to 4 hours, turning meat over halfway through cooking.

Transfer meat to cutting board and tent with foil.  Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf and discard.  Transfer vegetables to blender jar.  Add remaining broth to measuring cup and skim off fat.  Add enough beef broth to increase total liquid to 3 cups. Add liquid to blender jar and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Transfer broth back to empty Dutch oven over medium heat.

Stir in chopped thyme, remaining 1/4 cup wine, and vinegar into sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. The sauce tends to be in the thin side, and if it is combine the 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add to pot to thicken.  Season with salt and pepper.  Slice meat against grain and serve with sauce on top.