Wednesday, October 12, 2011

pot roast

Pot Roast.

The cut of beef known as “chuck” is from the shoulder and neck area of the animal. It is a definite working muscle and would be the toughest steak ever if you grilled it and served it, but when you gently braise it , the meat just becomes butter. Let’s remember that braising is cooking in a  moist, covered environment. It doesn’t have to be swimming in liquid, rather just kept really moist. A gentle Jacuzzi for the meat.

Mary is in out of town on business so Beatrice, Clementine and I will eat pot roast tonight, with local turnips & their green, carrots and buttery mashed potatoes. Great food for a rainy day. I will open a bottle of Valpolicella and relax before a very busy weekend. My book tour starts on Monday so I will need the sustenance.

Classic recipe:

¼ teaspoon chile flake
½ teaspoon fennel seed
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
pinch of brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons bacon fat
2 pound chuck roast, well marbled
2 medium sweet onions, peeled and quartered
2 stalks celery, cut in two inch lengths
2 medium carrots, cut in two inch lengths
1 small head of garlic
½ cup good red wine
3 cups chicken or beef stock
1 sprig fresh oregano
3 sprigs flatleaf parsley

Preheat oven to 275F.
Combine the chile flake, fennel seed, black pepper, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Mix with your finger tips and then season the beef with the cure. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Warm a large braising pot over medium high heat.  Add the bacon fat. Blot the beef with some paper towel to remove excess moisture and then add to the hot bacon fat. Sear off on all sides and then remove from the pan. The meat should look all nice and caramelized.

Add the onion to the pot and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the celery and the carrot. Add the wine and then take a spatula and scrape the good bits the will loosen from the bottom of the pot. Add the head of garlic. When the wine has pretty much evaporated add the stock. Add the seared beef, oregano and parsley. Cover and bring to a high simmer. Place in the oven and cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours depending on thickness and tightness of meat. 

After the time parameter of 2 1/2 to 3 hours has passed, check your roast. When you prod it with your finger it should give in with little resistance. Uncover the pot and cook for twenty more minutes. Remove from heat and serve with roasted turnips and carrots, some stewed turnip greens and a healthy dose of buttery mashed potatoes. Search Robuchon mashed potatoes to get a good recipe for them.
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