March has come in like a lamb and is going out like a lion. Even though we have spent much of the month reveling in unseasonably warm weather, busting out the barbeque might have been a bit premature. With temperatures expected to drop below zero this weekend, and a forecast for some flurries, it may be a good weekend to bring out the Dutch oven and indulge in one of our favorite seasonal dinners, classic pot roast.
The nice thing about a traditional pot roast is you don’t have to break the piggy bank buying the most expensive cuts of beef; Chuck or Tri tip roasts are great for a pot roast, and the slow cooking will heat up your kitchen for hours while old man winter has one last kick at the can.
This quintessential cold weather meal is the best dinner we can think of to make peace with the season; hearty, comforting and healthy, a one pot masterpiece that combines meat, potatoes and root vegetables into something greater than the sum of its parts. It is also a great way to use up yesterday’s leftover wine. Or the perfect excuse to open another bottle.
The thing to remember about pot roast is it cannot be rushed, so give yourself plenty of time. The other thing to remember is, don’t put all your veggies in the whole time the meat cooks or they will turn to mush and lose their unique flavours. We like a potato to taste like a potato, and for carrots to be distinguishable from rutabaga.
Here, is one of our favourite versions, adapted from Martha Stewart.
Pot Roast (serves 6- 8)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 5-pound beef chuck, rump or tri-tip roast
Salt and pepper
1.5 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine
3 onions, cut into large wedges
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (or baby potatoes)
1 pound rutabaga, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
1 large parsnip, cut into 1 ½ inch chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle roast all over with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place in pan, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
Turn meat fat side up and brown onions. Add stock, wine, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir in tomato paste. Bring to a simmer, cover; put in the oven, and roast for 3 hours. Add carrots, rutabaga, parsnip and potatoes, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes hour more.
Transfer the roast, and veggies to a platter. With a spoon, skim the fat off the surface of the cooking liquid. (For those that prefer a thicker gravy, make a roux by heating 3 tbsp of the fat and blending in 3 tbsp of flour over low heat. Stir in the liquid to roux to make a thicker sauce) Cut or pull the roast apart with a fork, into thick pieces and serve with the vegetables. Pass the pan juices/sauce separately.