Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dutch Oven Pot Roast

I love a really good home cooked pot roast and all sorts of beef stew, and this recipe gives you the best of both. The meat falls apart not in the pot but in your mouth, the vegetables are super soft and the whole thing creates a gravy that is something close to the deliciously famous Dinty Moore beef stew.

This one-pot meal is simple to make and an incredibly satisfying version of this classic comfort food.

Start with a 3 pound boneless beef chuck roast - well marbled is best - meaning thin lines of fat run all throughout the meat. Add veggies, a couple of secret ingredients, tend to it here and there as it bakes for a couple hours and you're all set to wow the family!

This recipe is impressive enough to serve at a holiday meal and easy enough to serve on a weeknight.

Pictured here are my veggies of choice: potatoes, carrots, parsnip and a generous pinch of dried garlic and red pepper flakes. I chop most of my vegetables one or two inches thick. One of the three potatoes is cut to a small dice and will disintegrate while thickening your gravy beautifully.

Here's the "before" picture after only about ten minutes of work and it's ready for the oven. The secret to the other worldly flavor of this dish is a bit of good dark beer, a packet of french onion soup mix, and a Dutch oven. My Dutch oven does something to roasted meats and gravy that I can't explain.

Here's my recipe - try it, change it up according to taste and let me know what you think!

Dutch Oven Pot Roast

3 pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of heavy fat
Salt and pepper
Oil for browning
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into one or two inch pieces
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into one or two inch pieces
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped to a small dice
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced into one inch disks
1/2 teaspoon dried garlic (optional)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Half cup of dark beer (I used a very dark cherry stout)
1 or 2 cups beef broth
1 packet of Lipton's French Onion Soup Mix
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven on the stove top over medium high heat. Rub the surface of the roast with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on both sides and remove to a plate.

Pour off the excess fat from the bottom of your pan but do not scrape it out. Add the beer to your pan and scrape the bottom while it boils for a half minute. Remove from heat.

Return the meat to the Dutch oven and spread your vegetables, garlic and red pepper around the sides of the roast. Sprinkle one packet of soup mix over the top of the meat and vegetables. Add enough beef broth to barely cover the veggies but not so much that it comes up over the top of the meat.

Place the lid tightly on your Dutch oven and put the whole thing into the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes then baste the meat with the liquid from the pan. Reduce the oven heat to 325F. Baste the roast every 30 minutes (3-4 times total).

The roast is done when the veggies are looking caramely and falling apart, and the sections of the meat are separating easily (typically 1.5 to 2 hrs). Season with salt to taste (though you may need none). I recommend lots of cracked black pepper.

You can slice it up and serve it on a plate (as pictured) or cut the meat into chunks and stir it together well to create a hearty stew.

Feel free to use whatever vegetables you like including lots of fresh garlic which is also really yummy. You can also use a variety of liquids including different types of beer, red wine, or water.


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