Pot Roast with a Secret

December 6, 2011 § 6 Comments

This delicious recipe has a secret – an ingredient that often hides in the shadows.  It is rare that you see this little treasure highlighted on a menu, or boasted about in the description of a dish.  Hey, it’s ok.  It’s not a show boat.  It’s not in the game for glory.  All it wants to do is lend a little something to each and every dish it takes part in.  A savory little something, a note of mystery, depth.  It has never demanded credit.  But today I’m calling it out.  I love you, Anchovies.  And I want to thank you for making this the best gosh-darned pot roast I’ve ever eaten.

There you are.  I will admit, your container makes a prettier picture than your fillets.

When I encountered this recipe for Boeuf a la Mode by Dorie Greenspan, she had me at the word ‘anchovies’.  I love these little fish, not so much whole, but as an ingredient in sauce or dressing.  Add them to anything and the description of the flavor profile becomes ‘Robust’.  I’ve made a few slight changes to this recipe, but it’s mostly Dorie’s typical genius.  The beef is much more akin to short ribs than any pot roast I’ve had in the past.

You’ll need to start the day before to marinate the beef. It’s a simple recipe, but the cooking time is long. This is a fantastic make-ahead dish-   it tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge.

Pot Roast with a SecretAdapted from a recipe by Dorie Greenspan

Serves six

1 Chuck Roast, 4lbs

Salt & pepper

1 onion, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 carrot, cut into 2″ pieces

1 celery stalk, cut into 2″ pieces

A bouquet garni (assortment of thyme, parsley, rosemary & bay, &  celery leaves – 8 sprigs total)

1 bottle (750ml) red wine

1 Tblsp olive oil

4 C meat stock – chicken or beef

2 Tblsp neutral oil – canola, grapeseed, or peanut

8 anchovy filets

2 Tblsp tomato paste

To Marinate:

1. Cover the roast liberally in salt & pepper.  Put it in a large ziplock or bowl – add the vegetables, herbs, wine & olive oil. Mix the ingredients and seal the bag or cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate overnight.  Occasionally turn the meat so it marinates evenly.

To Cook:

1.  If you can, take the roast out of the fridge an hour before you cook it to allow it to come to room temp. Strain the marinade, reserving the vegetables and herbs.  Pour the liquid into a medium saucepan and cook over high heat until it’s reduced by half.  add the meat stock and bring back to a boil, then remove from heat.

2. Preheat the oven to 325. Pat the roast dry with paper towels.  Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the canola oil and brown the roast on all sides (start with the fatty side). Once it has a good crust, remove it from the pot and set it aside on a big plate or bowl.

3. Add the vegetables to the pot and cook until the onions start to wilt, scraping up the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Once the vegetables are slightly soft and golden, sprinkle them with salt and pepper then add them to the plate with the roast.

4. Turn down the heat to medium.  Add 1/2 C of the wine/stock mixture to the pot.  Stir in the anchovy filets and the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until the anchovies ‘melt away’.  See – they’re so humble.   Pour in the rest of the wine/stock mix and the bouquet garni, bring to a simmer.

5. Add the meat and vegetables back to the pot, and bring the whole lot to a simmer. Cover the top of the dutch oven tightly with foil, then add the lid.

6. Put the pot in the oven and wait. Snack distractedly as the aroma of wine, beef, and …what is that amazing scent I can’t quite identify?… fill your kitchen.  This is going to take a while – probably 2 hours, maybe 3.  Check the roast after 2 hours – you will know it’s done when you press on a corner of it with the back of a spoon, or you prod it with a fork, and it begins to fall to shreds.  Your patience will be rewarded!  Don’t settle for kinda, sorta soft.  You want shreddy loveliness.

7. Once the meat is done, remove it from the pot – carefully.  Remember, this roast is falling to shreds! Strain the sauce into a saucepan and give it a taste.  If you would like it to be thicker or more intensely flavored, reduce it over medium high heat until the sauce is how you like. Skim the fat off the surface now, or after it has been refrigerated if this dish is for later.

8. Serve the roast in slices or chunks, with the sauce on the side for drizzling.  Try it with mashed potatoes and roasted squash.

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