For me, the best thing about fall and winter is braising. I love the low and slow cooking process, coaxing out the flavors of meats and vegetables and transforming those tough cuts into something that melts in your mouth. Yum!
Last week I made Pot Roast, a slow cooked chuck roast with tomatoes, vegetables, red wine, and stock. My kitchen smelled heavenly all day and once it all went into the pot, it really did just cook itself. Talk about low maintenance.
I based my dish on a recipe from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics book. I didn’t have all the ingredients so I substituted a few other veggies and herbs but was very happy with the results. I love her idea of pureeing together the vegetables and cooking liquid after the meat is done. It makes for a thick, rich sauce that rivals the actual meat in flavor. This dish would be delicious the next day so it works great for a make-ahead meal. I also like the idea of using two forks to shred the leftover meat, incorporating into the sauce, and serving it like a ragu over pasta.
Simple Pot Roast
1 boneless chuck roast, 4-5 pounds
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups peeled, chopped carrots
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups cored, chopped fennel bulbs
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups dry red wine
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, in their juices
2 cups chicken stock
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
1 pound small new potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Add about 1 tbs of oil to the pan and, when hot, add the meat. Cook it for 4-5 minutes a side, until nicely browned all over. Remove the meat from the pan and add the carrots, onions, celery, fennel, and garlic, with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the vegetable are tender, 5-6 minutes, add the wine and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, oregano, and rosemary and let the mixture boil for about 2 minutes, adding a pinch each of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until the meat is very tender, about 3 hours.
Remove the herb sprigs and discard them. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and set aside. Using an immersion blender, puree the veggies and cooking liquid into a smooth, thick sauce (alternatively, mixture can be pureed in a blender then transferred back to the pot). Return the meat to the sauce and add the potatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover again, and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes more.
Slice the meat against the grain and place it on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce and potatoes over the top and enjoy.