Recipe modified from For the Love of Cooking
There were more important things to tend to than spending long hours in the kitchen – for that afternoon we were picking Brian up at the airport to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with us. It was also his first visit to what we hope will soon be our full-time home in New Mexico, and we wanted him have a good impression of this place that his father and I love so much.
What simple dinner might be comforting to a traveler after a long day of changing planes and cramped flying? Pot roast seemed to be the answer – not too fancy, not time-consuming. However it was a special occasion, so I decided to veer a little from my basic recipe and add balsamic vinegar to the braising liquid. Balsamic vinegar enhances the flavor of beef, and when reduced, the gravy has more of a sweet-and-sour zing to it than plain onion gravy. I planned on serving this with roasted carrots and bleu cheese polenta triangles. It turns out that bleu cheese is too “melty” for making crisp polenta shapes…but it makes nice polenta pancakes. Although this meal lacked in presentation, everyone enjoyed it as we sat around the table, relaxing and catching up with where life has taken us. Mission accomplished!
- 3 pound chuck roast, preferably grass-fed
- Kosher or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons oil, for high-heat cooking (I use coconut oil)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, sliced thinly
- 1 shallot, sliced thinly
- 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- ~ 2 cups beef broth
- 2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 325F. Heat the high-temp oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the chuck roast deeply on both sides until well-browned. Place the roast in a bowl; set aside.
Pour off the hot oil and add the olive oil to the pan, with the onions and shallot. Cook for a few minutes, until the onion is softened (but not browned). Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir for about a minute, until aromatic. Add the balsamic vinegar and broth; use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan (scrape up the delicious browned bits from the bottom of the pan). Bring to a boil.
Return the chuck roast to the pan. Add the bay leaves. If needed, add more broth or water so that the roast is at least half covered in liquid. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender enough to cut with a wooden spoon. (During the last hour or so, partially uncover the roast so some of the liquid will cook off. Flip the meat over to keep one side from drying out.)
Remove the roast to a serving dish; cover and keep warm. While the meat is resting, remove the bay leaves from the balsamic onion sauce, and skim as much fat as possible from the top. Puree in the onions with a stick blender. (Alternatively, you can strain the sauce if you would like it to be ultra-smooth.) Place on stove over medium high heat and reduce sauce to desired consistency. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.
Slice the pot roast and drizzle with the balsamic onion gravy. Serve additional gravy on the side. Enjoy!
A special occasion indeed, and the pot roast was a hit! As was LP shopping in Santa Fe…always find some good stuff. First up, John Hammond’s Country Blues, a early album from the renown blues guitarist. Just him on guitar and harp, doing Blind Willie McTell, Robert Johnson and more. Stellar stuff!
Any day you can pick up more Albert King is a good day, and I found King of the Blues Guitar, a compilation on Stax with great cuts like “Crosscut Saw” and “Born Under A Bad Sign”. Albert, like the pot roast, don’t fool around!