Classic Pot Roast

There is pot roast…and then there is this pot roast.

We New Englanders have been struggling through the winter of 2014 to 2015, hunkering down to survive one nor’easter, blizzard or “ordinary” snowstorm after another.  Truth be told, the 2014 part of the winter was actually fairly mild and snow free.  Then wham, along came Snowpocalypse 2015!

We’ve had over 60″ of snow in the last month which has set a new record, and we’re on track to break even more records before the winter is over.  Honestly, there’s no place left to put the snow we shovel.  To give you an idea, here’s a photo the Boston Globe took of a snow “mountain” in a parking lot in front of MIT in Cambridge, MA.

So, what’s a person like me do when it’s snowing with frigid temps, and the wind is close to hurricane force?  Why, cook, of course—all the while keeping fingers crossed that the power won’t go out.  In between snowstorms, I stock up at the supermarket–and comfort food is on the agenda.

When my kids were young, I never made pot roast for a variety of reasons.  They didn’t like chewing on meat so much, and I didn’t own a Dutch oven back then.  I don’t know how I survived without a Dutch oven for so long because once I got one it became a work horse.  One-pot meals are a cook’s friend—just sear, sauté, cover the pan and finish baking your meal in the oven.

Once I tasted this pot roast, I retired all the other recipes I had for pot roast.  This is my gold standard!  The sweet vermouth gives the gravy a flavor unlike any other I’ve tasted.  Folks, it’s lick-the-plate good.  And the vegetables—oh my!  The long roasting in the oh-so-flavorful gravy elevated them to out-of-this world fabulous.  As Roger and I were eating, we took turns saying, “Wow, is this good.”  I can’t wait until the kids’ next visit home so that I can make them this delicious meal.

Comfort food doesn’t get much better than this classic pot roast.  It’s frantastic!

One year ago:  Best Ever Steak (Indoors)

Two years ago:  Coffee Crème Brûlée

Three years ago:  Roger’s Jambalaya

Classic Pot Roast

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 6 to 8 carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 lbs. chuck roast
  • 1 cup sweet vermouth
  • 2 tbl. butter
  • 1 tbl. flour (gluten free or regular all-purpose both work well)
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3- to 4-inch piece of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup of frozen peas

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275o F.

Heat a heavy bottomed, oven-safe pot over medium-high heat (I used my enamel cast iron Dutch oven for this).  Swirl one or two tablespoons of olive oil into the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots; cook 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are lightly golden.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.  Don’t be shy with the salt, as it enhances the overall flavor.  Raise the heat to high, and let the pot get very hot, so it’ll be ready to brown the beef properly.  Swirl a bit more oil into the pot, just enough to cover the bottom if necessary.  Add the meat, sear on all sides, and cook until deeply browned all over.

Transfer the beef to the bowl with the vegetables.

Pour in the vermouth, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits (known as fond) from the bottom of the pot.  Bring to a boil; then reduce to simmer.

Let cook 2 to 3 minutes until the alcohol has dissipated, and reduced by 1/3.  Whisk in the butter until it is completely dissolved.  Sprinkle in the flour, and whisk until the mixture is smooth (this is called making a roux).  Cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes, until the color deepens a bit (this cooks the flour so it doesn’t add a raw taste to your sauce).  Slowly pour in the stock, whisking constantly, until it becomes a slightly thickened gravy.

Add the meat back to the pot.  Spoon the vegetables on top, and add the herbs.

Cover with a tight fitting-lid (or foil if you don’t have a lid).  Place the pot in the oven, and cook for 4 hours.  Remove the lid, add the frozen peas, and cook for 30 minutes more, uncovered, until the meat is extremely tender when pierced with a fork.  Serve pot roast with mashed potatoes and rolls to sop up the flavorful gravy!

Serves 4

Source:   Adapted from a recipe from In Jennie’s Kitchen

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