Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pot Roast

I LOVE pot roast. A good pot roast warms not only the body but the soul as well. I just put a roast on to cook and even though it's just getting started, I already like the way my hands smell... seared beef, garlic, onion, and Italian seasonings. YUM! Since I'm planning on turning this blog into a book at the end of the year, I wanted to be sure and include the recipe I use for pot roast. But let me back up a bit first...

Last year (almost one year ago!) for Mother's Day, I got my first set of enameled cast iron cookware. The brand is Le Creuset and it's the most amazing cookware on the market! No lie... but it comes with a pretty price tag. However, it's worth every single penny. I've always enjoyed cooking, but having amazing cookware makes it that much more enjoyable. Besides, using my colorful cast iron cookware takes me back to my childhood... to long weekends and summers visiting my Tutu on the Big Island. She was an amazing cook and also used really good cookware. Just writing this makes me so badly want to visit the past... just to stand next to her in the kitchen one more time and watch her cook... and smell the smells... and be with her. I miss her so much. I really, really miss her.

So last year, in order to break in my new cookware, I went in search of a really good pot roast recipe. I surfed several sites online and finally found one worthy of trying. I was impressed with all the comments on the site. People made comments about how it was the best roast they'd eaten in 30-something years, how they'd never succeeded in making a good roast until they tried this recipe, and how they were finally happy to make a piece of meat that could be considered edible (instead of being used as a hockey puck!) I won't include all the comments here... there are far too many!

So I tried it. I made this recipe in my brand new, lovely cherry red French oven and it was spectacular! I've made it a few times since then and almost always have unbelievably delicious results. So here it is the recipe. I looked on the website and the author (Elise Bauer) says that she generally doesn't mind her photos being used on other sites as long as there is a link back to the original recipe. So here is the link to the Pot Roast recipe! And here it is, in all its glory:

Pot Roast

Pot roast was a standard growing up, and still continues to be in my parent's household. It requires slow cooking over low heat to ensure tender, flavorful meat. Pot roasts typically use the tougher cuts of beef - a chuck roast or shoulder roast - which have the most flavor. The slow cooking at low heat is what melts the tough connective tissue between the muscle fibers, leaving you with tender meat that flakes apart with your fork. This is my mother's tried and true recipe for pot roast. She only adds a half cup of liquid to the pot because she's able to keep the heat very low and her pot has a tight cover.

  • 3 1/2 lb of beef shoulder or boneless chuck roast
  • 1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
  • Salt, pepper, italian seasoning to taste
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped or sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • Several carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise

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1 Use a thick-bottomed covered pot, such as a dutch oven, just large enough to hold roast and vegetables. Heat 1 Tbsp of oil on medium high heat (hot enough to sear the meat). Sprinkle and rub salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning all over the meat. Brown roast in pot, all over, several minutes on each side. Don't move the roast while a side is browning, or it won't brown well.

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2 When roast is browned, lift up the meat and add garlic and chopped onion to the bottom of the pan. Let the roast sit on top of the onions. Add 1/2 cup of red wine. Cover. Bring to simmer and then adjust the heat down to the lowest heat possible to maintain a low simmer when covered (we cook our roast on the warm setting of our electric range)*.

3 Cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until meat is tender. (If you are using a pressure cooker, cut the time by half). Near the end of the cooking, add carrots, cook until tender, about an additional 10 minutes.

After cooking 3 1/2 hours, before adding the carrots. Note how much liquid has been released by the meat. This comes from slow cooking at a very low temperature. If your pot roast is too dry, make sure the pan you are using has a tight fitting lid and that you are cooking at the lowest possible heat to maintain the low simmering.

Serves 4. Suggest serving with green beans and potatoes

*If you use a gas range, you may find difficulty getting the flame low enough. A tip I recently read in Cook's Illustrated suggests tightly rolling up some aluminum foil, shaping it into a skinny donut, and putting that on top of the burner to create a little more distance between the range and the pan. If your pot roast is turning out too dry, you might want to try this tip.

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