Pot roast. It doesn’t seem like much. The cut alone, chuck roast, is a humble hunk of meat. It needs time, and patience, to be rendered tender. Some aromatics, a helping of sweet vermouth, and homemade stock, and in a few hours you have a pot of meat, tender enough to release it’s hold with the the poke of a fork. It’s a meal filled with depth, a heartiness only the tenets of low and slow can yield.
Pot roast is kind of like love. Time isn’t of the essence; it’s the foundation of it all. A few key ingredients, thoughtful, yet unfussy technique, and don’t over think it too much. It makes sense that this was the first meal I made for the new love in my life, after what's been a long journey in finding happiness again. —Jennifer Perillo
large yellow onion, chopped
carrots, peeled & cut into 2-inch pieces
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
(1.5 kilo) beef chuck roast
(237 ml) sweet vermouth
(28 grams) butter
(11 grams) flour
(.5L) beef broth (chicken works fine, too)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 to 4-inch (7.5 cm to 10 cm) piece of frsh rosemary
Heat a heavy bottomed, oven-safe pot over medium-high heat (I use an enamel cast iron dutch oven for this). Swirl about a tablespoon of olive oil into the pot. Add the onion, garlic, and carrots; cook 2 to 3 minutes, until the onions are lightly golden. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
Generously season the meat with salt and pepper. Don’t be shy with the salt, as it enhances the overall flavor. Raise the heat to high, and let the pot get very hot, so it’ll be ready to brown the beef properly. Swirl a bit more oil into the pot, just enough to cover the bottom, if necessary. Add the meat, and cook until deeply browned all over. Transfer the beef to the bowl with the vegetables.
Pour in the vermouth, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let cook 2 to 3 minutes until the alcohol has dissipated, and reduced by 1/3. Whisk in the butter until it’s completely dissolved. Sprinkle in the flour, and whisk until the mixture is smooth (this is called making a roux, in case you ever wondered what that term means). Cook, whisking constantly, 1 to 2 minutes, until the color deepens a bit (this cooks the flour so it doesn’t add a raw taste to your sauce). Slowly pour in the stock, whisking constantly, until it becomes a slightly thickened gravy.
Add the meat back to the pot. Spoon the vegetables on top, and add the herbs. Cover with a tight fitting-lid (or foil if you don’t have a lid). Place the pot in the oven, and cook for 4 hours. Remove the lid, and cook for 30 minutes more, uncovered, until the meat is falling apart-tender when pierced with a fork. While it’s a lovely meal on its own, I like to serve pot roast with mashed potatoes.
Jennifer Perillo is the Consulting Food Editor at Working Mother magazine, and a regular a contributor to Relish Magazine and FoodNetwork.com. She shares stories about food, family and life at her blog In Jennie's Kitchen and in her debut cookbook, Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's Kitchen (Running Press 2013).