Comfort food. How can you go wrong in the dead of winter with a slow-simmering pot roast, filling the house with the wonderful smell of roasting meat? Looking to liven up your roast repertoire? Give this a whirl. Shazam!
The key to pot roast is, 1.) the braising liquid, and 2.) the braising liquid. Yeah, it's that important. Tossing a hunk of chuck roast in a crock pot or oven with a few cupfuls of water is a sin. You want to infuse your meat with as much flavor as possible while breaking down collagen for that fork-tender roast. Beef stock is a go-to choice for braising beef. But dry red wine is also a logical choice due to its high acidic content and flavor as it breaks down during the cooking process. Wine makes a poor choice for marinating meats, however. The acidic nature of wine turns meat to mush during the long marinating process.
For this pot roast, we are going to go with combination of red wine and beef broth as the braising liquid. Our cooking vessel of choice for this dish? A cast iron dutch oven in an oven preheated to 350 degrees. The final flavor enhancer to add depth? A mirepoix (meer-pwah), which is a fancy French term for carrots, celery and onion (or unn-yawwwwwwn, if you want to sound Frenchified while explaining to your friends and family that you used a meeeer-pwahhh). During the long cooking process, the vegetables head toward the caramelization process, bringing out natural sugars, or, as we call it in the the cooking biz "The Yum."
BOSS HOG'S WINE-BRAISED POT ROAST
Prep time: 20-30 min. Cooking time: 2-1/2 to 3 hrs
2-1/2 to 3 lb. chuck roast
Garlic cloves, 5-6, peeled and crushed
Carrots, 6 pc, peeled, cut in half
Sweet onion, large, chunked
Celery, 3 stalks, large chunks
Dry red wine (merlot, chianti, cab, pinot noir, etc), 1 bottle
Beef broth, 2 cups
Heat several TBSPs of olive oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chuck roast with salt, pepper and dried rosemary and brown both sides.
Remove meat. Add garlic to the dutch oven and saute for 1-2 minutes.
Add carrots, sweet onion and celery to form a bed in the bottom of the pan (the meeer-pwahhhhh).
Place the roast atop the vegetables.
Add half a bottle of dry red wine (drink the rest) and two cups of beef broth (don't drink the rest).
Place in the oven for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, checking after to 2-1/2 for tenderness. Remove the meat and about half of the vegetables when its done and cover with foil to rest.
The goal is to incorporate the caramelized vegetables into the now totally delicious combination of red wine, beef broth and natural juices from the braised chuck roast. An immersion blender is ideal for this task. A food process will also work. Strain out the veggies and blast them till creamy smooth in the food processor with a little braising liquid. Return this to the dutch oven on the stove top and cook on high heat to reduce. Or, if you are in a hurry, or feeling lazy, add a 1/4 cup of cornstarch to a 1/2 cup of cold water, mix well and stir in. Add more cornstarch and water until you reach your desired thickness. Spoon over meat and/or mashed potatoes.
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"Boss Hog" Dean Wells is the owner and operator of the Wells Hog Wild BBQ Co., a national award-winning Southern barbecue outfit with BBQ joints in Warren, Pa. and Lakewood, NY, specializing in ribs, brisket, pulled pork and pig roasts. In his spare time, he raises two daughters, plays a mean guitar and cooks at home. Touch base with Hog Wild at their website at www.wellshogwildbbq.com