Brrr. It’s getting chilly in the evenings. Time for heartier fare and one pot wonders like soups, braised meats, and vegetables. Our friend Esther recently told us about a cookbook called All About Braising. She raved about so many of the recipes that we decided to try for ourselves. Although we knew we loved braised beef (see our posts on brisket and short ribs), it had been a while since we’d made old-fashioned pot roast. Also, we’d never thought about braising cabbage or fennel, so look for those in future posts.
Here is our first effort – a classic Yankee pot roast by way of the early French immigrants that settled on our eastern seaboard. (Think “daube de boeuf.”)
(adapted from All About Braising by Molly Stevens)
3 1/2 – 4 pounds chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup dry red or white wine
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 medium onion, peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 pound turnips, peeled and quartered (optional)
1/2 pound small white or red potatoes, peeled and quartered
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1 1/2 inch lengths
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt for serving
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Season roast on both sides with salt and pepper.
In a heavy Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium high heat. Add the roast and brown on both sides, about 8 to 10 minutes per side. Remove roast and set aside. Pour off excess oil.
Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits in the pan with a wooden spoon. Boil the wine until reduced by half (3 to 4 minutes). Add the stock and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat and return the roast to the Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf, onion, and cloves. Add the thyme and spoon liquid over the roast.
If you have it, cover the Dutch oven with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch over the edges. Press down on the paper until it almost touches the roast and place lid on top.
Place pot in lower third of oven to braise, checking after 15 minutes to make sure the liquid is simmering but not boiling. Adjust your oven temperature slightly if necessary.
After 45 minutes carefully turn the roast over using tongs.
After another 45 minutes turn the roast again. Add the turnips, potatoes, and carrots. Spoon some of the braising liquid over the meat.
Continue braising for another 1 1/2 hours until the meat is fork tender and vegetables are easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
Transfer the meat to a carving board; slice the meat into 1/2-inch-thick pieces, then transfer the roast to a serving platter. Remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon and place around the roast. Discard bay leaf. Cover with foil to keep warm.
Set the Dutch oven over medium heat and skim off any of the fat. If the liquid is too thin, boil to thicken slightly.
Ladle the braising liquid over the top, sprinkle with fleur de sel and serve.