pot roastLet’s get one thing straight: this isn’t your aunt Mildred’s pot roast.  So, throw out any images you’ve got of dry, tough meat and bland veggies.  This is a pot roast for the twenty-first century – a tour de force for red meat.  With a bit of time (and a sprig of rosemary, hardy har har) you’ll quickly appreciate the balance and sophistication of this classic dish.

Makes: 50’s housewives horny
Total kitchen time: 3.5 hours

Shopping list:

  • 1 4-5 lb beef chuck roast
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot (optional, but I include it for good mirepoix karma)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 large can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups tawny port (find it in the desert wine section of your grocery store.  Don’t spend more than $10 per bottle.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 300F.  Pat the chuck roast dry with a paper towel.  This will help the meat brown nicely.  Salt and pepper the beef with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. In a shallow bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with boiling water and let them sit for about 15 minutes.  Roughly chop and set aside. 
  3. On the stove, heat a large, oven-proof dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over high heat (you can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker, but a dutch oven is really ideal here).    Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to smoke.
  4. Add the beef and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  We’re not trying to cook the beef here, just to develop a delectable brown crust.  Remove the beef and let it sit on a platter until we’re ready for it again.
  5. Add the onion, celery and carrots (if you’re using ’em) and saute until they begin to brown.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute for another minute or so.  Your kitchen should smell really good right now.
  6. Using your bare hands, crush the tomatoes into the pot.  Be careful not to squirt tomato guts all over yourself or the police will have probable cause to search your apartment.
  7. Add the port and bring everything to a boil.  Add the beef broth and boil again. 
  8. Return the meat to the pot and nestle it as far beneath the broth and veggies as possible.  Put the lid on the pot and transfer it to the oven.
  9. Bake for 3 hours, turning once or twice to make sure everything is running smoothly. 

The meat will be so tender that it will fall apart as you plate it.  Serve atop some parmesan polenta with a big hunk of crusty bread.  Oh, and you’ll thank me the next day when you have the best leftovers of your life.

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