I promised this recipe in an earlier post. I’ve been trying to write it since then, but it turns out that recipe writing, unlike anything else, turns me into something of a perfectionist…this is easily my longest post yet.
I like food to be delicious over all else. Erin calls me a hedonist. I think that’s a good thing, and it’s good for you, because the recipe I’m giving you is delicious. I can’t promise easy or cheap or healthy, but I do promise that this is a meal you can cook to impress someone. However, pot roast is pretty easy, and pretty cheap. And using bison over beef kinda makes it healthy(er). OK. Onto step one.
Step 1: Ingredients
You need some meat, some salt, some pepper, some herbs, some onions, some oil and a bottle of red wine. Vegetables are optional. Buying the right ingredients is the most important thing you can do. Whole Foods will not only have high-quality ingredients, but their staff (including yours truly) is really knowledgeable about their products and can make sure you get the best stuff. Plus, anything you buy there is guaranteed to be free of additives, chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics, which to me makes the cost well worth it.
Salt needs to be coarse ground sea salt or Kosher salt. You probably have enough in your kitchen already, but if you aren’t sure, buy more because you will use it on everything, and it doesn’t go bad. As for Pepper, I love the Peppercorn Medley grinders. Worlds away from pre-ground black pepper. Herbs: I use pre-mixed Italian Herbs. I know, it’s a cop out, but it’s easy ad it works. However, this is definitely the best place to improvise. Olive oil. Extra-virgin is healthiest, but I still usually get the cheapest extra-virgin (Whole Foods’ 365 brand is great), because the flavor won’t overpower the meat. I like to use sweet, yellow Onions. One will do the trick, but for my last batch I used two big ones and am glad I did because they come out amazing in this recipe. Your Red Wine should be something you like to drink, because you only need about an eighth of the bottle. Pinot Noir seems to work best. A good wine will come out better, but again, no reason to cook your expensive wine. I recommend asking a wine person about good deals, or looking for sales. The last wine I used was a Hahn Pinot Noir that was on sale, and it was delicious. Vegetables are a little complicated to cook just right, but it’s worth it. I used all organic: two Yukon Gold potatoes, two Red potatoes, two full stalks of celery (cut from a whole bunch) and one carrot. It came out pretty close to perfect as far as portions; I wish maybe I’d used another carrot.
Meat is in a lot of ways the easiest to buy: 3.5 to 4.5 Lbs of boneless chuck roast can be stretched to feed eight (abou a half pound per person), but this one is great left-over so I always get a little more than I think I need. Chuck seems pretty fatty, but if you get anything else you’ll regret it. Chuck gets fall-apart tender when slow cooked, and the flavor is incredible. Using grass-fed beef or bison results in a leaner roast; if you can find bison chuck, the stronger flavor really shines.
Step 2: Cooking
Put just enough olive oil in a large skillet to cover the bottom and put on the stove at medium-high heat. Rub your pot roast on both sides with salt, pepper, and herbs. With a leaner roast like Bison, you might want to lightly brush it with olive oil to help your seasonings stick. Once seasoned, brown the roast in the hot skillet for 10-15 minutes each side. Don’t mess with it – let it just sit in the pan for 15 minutes.
While the meat browns, cut your onions into big chunks and separate them. The shape is up to you. when the meat is done browning, set it aside and put the onions into your skillet, adding oil if necessary. Sautee the onions until they are really soft – it might take 25-30 minutes. I like to let them go a little long, until they just start to turn brown and carmelize. While the onions are cooking, preheat your oven to about 200 – 220 degrees F. Roasting in the oven without too much liquid tastes gives you a much more flavorful, textured roast than a slow cooker ever will.
In the bottom of your dutch oven or roasting pan (I use a simple Granitewear roaster – like $20 at most stores), make a sort of bed out of your cooked onions and set your browned roast on top of it. Pour any extra oil from your skillet onto your roast, and then pour about a cup of red wine over the meat. Cover and toss into the preheated oven.
When the roast has been in the oven for an hour and a half, cut up your veggies and let them soak in water. I like to cut my ‘taters into wedges and mt carrots and celery into little discs. When the roast has been in the oven for two and a half hours, take it out and add the veggies around the edges of the pan. I recommend basting the veggies liberally with the juices from the bottom of the pan before you cover it again and put it back into the oven. If you put them in any earlier, you will end up with soggy, flavorless veggies. It’s gross.
The next step is the real secret to perfect veggies. Once the veggies have been in the oven for about an hour (just a little longer will be better), take your roaster out of the oven. Turn the oven temp up to 350 or 400 degrees F. Set your roast aside on a plate and cover it with foil. Put the pan full of veggies uncovered into the hotter oven for another 20 mins to a half hour. It’s always a good idea to let your meat sit outside the oven for at least 10-15 minutes before serving; this is about the only way I ever have the patience to wait.
So that’s your whole delicious meal. The onions you sauteed at the beginning of cooking will be like candy in the bottom of your pan. Your meat will be falling apart, and you can stretch it a little farther (and make it a little healthier) with side dishes. Erin made me a great Kale salad and a rice side – I’ll put those recipes on here when she gives them up.
The strong beefy flavor pairs well with bold red wines – in addition to the rest of your Pinot, try a so-called “baby Amarone“, like a Palazzo della Torre. At under $20 a bottle, it’s an incredible and complex wine at an amazing value.
Beer drinkers – big beefy flavors go great with Belgian Blondes. Try this recipe with a Leffe.
*”Eat” your heart out, Kelsey (get it?).
Did you actually make it through this post? Are you going to try and make it?