Some may argue that pot roast is not refined enough for a holiday meal. To those folks, I say, "Bah humbug!" When properly prepared, like Bruce Aidells' Pot-Roasted Grass-Fed Beef Chuck with Winter Root Vegetables , the humble chuck roast can be just as enticing as a bone-in rib roast. This recipe, from The Great Meat Cookbook, produces a meal with multitudinous meaty layers--bacon starts the show, rendering its fat with which to sear the chuck, and a dense red wine reduction forms the backbone (along with beef stock) of the braising liquid. A flurry of root vegetables, shallots, slow cooked onions, garlic add deep vegetal flavor to complement the earthiness of the grass-fed beef. Best of all, the dish is almost entirely hands-off, sending its luscious aromas into the kitchen to entice even the most Scrooge-like of guests.
Why I picked this recipe: With cool weather comes the urge to braise large chunks of meat; this version's mustardy, paprika and bacon-infused flavor profile seemed like the perfect mid-December meal or even a hands-off holiday entree.
What worked: Rich, unctuous, and rib-stickingly satisfying, this is a pot roast I'd even serve to company.
What didn't: I wanted a little more aggressive seasoning on the roast; next time I'd up the rub ingredients a bit.
Suggested tweaks: Pot roast and vegetables is an infinitely variable meal, especially when it comes to the vegetables in the pot. Keep the hardy, dense, and cut in similar sizes, and you can swap in and out whichever you choose. I'm a sucker for potatoes in my pot roast, so I'll be including some baby Yukons in my next batch.
Reprinted with permission from The Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells, copyright 2012. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Mustard and Paprika Rub
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 4-pound boneless grass-fed beef chuck roast, tied
- 6 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1 x 1/2-inch-thick strips (lardons)
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1/2 cup homemade beef stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water, plus more if needed
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 cups thinly sliced onions (about 2 large)
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled
- 12 small shallots, peeled
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 small celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rub: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Rub thoroughly over all sides of the meat. (If time allows, wrap the roast in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring from time to time, until browned and lightly crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the roast, and sear on all sides until nicely browned, about 7 minutes total. Remove the meat.
Pour the red wine into the pot, bring to a boil, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, and reduce to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Add the stock, reserved bacon, and bay leaves, and lay in the roast. Scatter the onions and garlic over and around the meat, cover, and bake for 1 hour.
Remove the lid, turn over the meat so that it is on top of the onions, and bake for 1 hour more, checking after 30 minutes to make sure there is still liquid in the pot and to stir the onions so that they brown evenly; add more stock or water if necessary.
Remove the roast and add the shallots, carrots, parsnips, and celery root to the pot with the onions. Return the meat to the pot, cover, and bake for 1 hour more, or until the roast is fork-tender and the vegetables are soft. If the roast is not done, continue to bake, checking every 20 minutes.
Remove the meat and vegetables, discarding the bay leaves. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside while you complete the sauce. Degrease the cooking liquid, and boil briefly to concentrate, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (You can refrigerate the roast and sauce separately overnight and reheat to serve the next day, discarding any congealed fat on the top of the sauce.)
To serve, remove the twine, slice the meat into thick slices or chunks, and ladle the sauce over the meat and vegetables.