Saturday, December 1, 2012

Classic Pot Roast

This favorite Sunday dinner family meal has been popular in the American homes for many years.  Braised beef cooked in a onion red wine reduction then surrounded by potatoes, carrots and other favorite vegetables, is sure to feed a crowd and fill your home with an aroma guaranteed to make stomachs growl.  If you follow these simple instructions, you will have a tender and very flavorful dinner.
Julian's Yankee Pot Roast 2017
Sometimes called a "Yankee Pot Roast" the cut of beef used varies significantly.  In the US, typical cuts often labeled 'pot roast' at your store are the 7-bone pot roast, arm roast, blade roast, chuck eye, cross rib roast, top blade pot roast, under blade pot roast, bottom round roast, eye round roast, and rump roast.  The shoulder roast is typically called an English cut pot roast.

Let's get cooking!
Some of these have a bone and some are boneless, and the selection is really up to you.  I often think meat with a bone has more flavor although I do not always select that cut.  I prefer the flat cuts about 2" thick with some nice marbling of fat, which will largely melt away during the long cooking period. All of the roasts named here have in common that they are tough and not suitable for dry roasting.  As such they must all be browned and then surrounded by a cooking liquid for a slow cook to make them tender and flavorful.  

Another version to which I added Brussels Sprouts
Previously I've shared my recipe for old-fashioned country round steak which starts its preparation similarly.  I mention this so as not to confuse you with the two similar but different meals.  Old-fashioned country round steak is made using "round steak" which comes from the eye round, bottom round, and top round with or without the "round" bone, hence the name.  It is finished in a rich gravy and served with mashed potatoes.  This is a different cut of meat from the classic pot roast and has an all-together different outcome.

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4-5 pound pot roast
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
large onion, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup red wine
1 quart chicken stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 large carrots, cut into 1" pieces
10-12 small red potatoes, cut in half
    10-12 Brussels sprouts, ends removed and cut in half
    1 pint whole washed mushrooms

2 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons water

Preheat your oven to 350F degrees.

Brown the roast in a skillet or Dutch oven (do not use non-stick surfaces) using 2-3 tablespoons of oil.  Do not turn it until it is well browned, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove the meat to the roasting pan or set aside if using the same Dutch oven for the roasting.  Deglaze the brown bits from the bottom of the pan using the chopped onion.  Salt and stir the onion using its juices to scrape up the brown flavorful bits from the bottom of the pan.  This will take about five minutes.  Then add the chopped garlic cloves and stir in for another minute or two.  Spoon the onion mixture over the roast or remove to a serving bowl if using a Dutch oven, while you make the cooking liquid.

In skillet or Dutch oven, add the red wine and scrape up any remaining bits of flavor while the wine reduces by half, about five minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and pour around (not on top of) roast in your roasting pan or transfer the meat back into your Dutch over and pour over the onion mixture.  The liquid should come up most of the way on the sides of the beef without covering it.  Place the lid on the roasting pan and place it in the preheated oven.  Let cook covered for one hour.

While the meat is roasting, cut up your potatoes, carrots and optional Brussels sprouts and whole mushrooms and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with your favorite seasonings or at least salt and pepper.  After the meat has roasted for 1 1/2 hours, check to ensure there is still cooking liquid around the roast.  If not, add additional liquid (broth or water) which should come up about half way on the sides of the roast.  Spread the vegetables around the roast in the liquid.  Remove the cover and continue cooking for another hour.  Check about half way through to ensure the vegetables are not becoming to brown.  If so, replace the cover.  Cook an additional 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender (total roasting time with vegetables is approximately 60-90 minutes, or 2 hours 30 minutes total roasting time.)

Remove the meat and vegetables to a serving platting and cover to keep warm. Place the broth in a small sauce pan. Strain out any solids if you prefer.  Heat to a low boil.  Mix the cornstarch and water in a small dish and whisk into the hot broth to thicken into gravy.  Serve.

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