Italian-Style Pot Roast

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I've never made a pot roast before. So, I decided that buying a new slow-cooker was enough reason to try cooking a pot roast.

It was a bit more work than expected, but it turned out well. Mashed potatoes and biscuits rounded out the meal, which is a departure from my usual single-course dinners.

After asking a friend, it turns out for a proper braise, I probably needed a lot less liquid. This recipe halves the amount of tomatoes I used.

The recipe said I would be able to skim the fat off the top of the liquid, but that did not work well at all, leaving the sauce a bit greasy. If I make this again, that is something I need to figure out.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz bacon (about 4 slices)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 c water (or dry red wine)
  • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (2.5-3 lb) boneless beef chuck roast
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

Begin by prepping all the vegetables. Chop the carrots and onion. Mince the garlic. Wash the mushrooms to get all the dirt off, and then mince.

Cut the bacon into 1-inch chunks. Cook over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to slow cooker. Pour off all but a couple tbsp of fat from the pan.

Add carrots, onion, garlic, porcini, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper to pan. Cook over medium-high heat until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in water (or wine), scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir tomatoes, broth, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Season roast with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low, or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Move roast to a cutting board and wrap loosely in aluminum foil to rest for 20 minutes. Let the braising liquid settle, then skim the fat from the surface with a spoon. Discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve roast into 1/2 in thick slices. Spoon sauce over meat and serve.

Images

Lot of ingredients here, but only the roast was expensive. It made up for anything, which is probably why I won't be making roasts very often.

Since I didn't have any fresh stock on hand, I decided to reconstitute some boullion. It turns out to be pretty easy, and cost-effective.

Just combine 1 cup water with 1 boullion cube or 1 tsp of boullion granules.

Cover and bring to a boil.

Once the boullion is dissolved, let cool, and you've got your broth.

While you're doing that tedium, you can prepare the veggies. Peel and chop the carrots.

To easily chop an onion, cut the top off first.

Then cut it in half.

Next, slice down the onion, but not all the way, leaving the root attached.

Finally, slice across the onion, all the way to the base.

To mince the garlic, first smash the clove with the flat of the knife blade. Once smashed, the skin should be easy to remove (though, I already removed the skin in these pictures).

Then mince by rocking the knife back and forth over the flattened garlic.

The porcini mushrooms are very important for the flavor. They must be rinsed first.

Then they can be minced. They will be a bit tough, so be careful.

Now that all our prep is done, we can move on to the bacon.

First chop into 1-inch slices.

Drop into the skillet and fry until crisp. Remember: Browning means flavor.

Pour off all but a bit of fat to cook the vegetables.

Add the bacon to the slow cooker.

Next, add the vegetables, spices, and tomato paste to the pan.

Saute over medium-high heat until tender, and slightly browned (browning means flavor).

Once the vegetables are done, we need to get all the flavor off the bottom of the pan. Traditionally, deglazing is done with wine or broth, but water works just fine too (a nice dry, red wine would add some flavor though).

Scrape all the flavor off into the liquid.

Then add the lot to the slow-cooker.

Add the tomatoes and bay leaves to the pot.

Add some salt and pepper to the roast.

Then drop in the roast.

Cover, and cook for 5-9 hours on high.

The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of about 180°F-205°F. This is well above the temperature necessary to kill all the nasty bugs.

Now we should let it rest for 20-30 minutes so that it stays nice and juicy. Get some aluminum foil ready.

Wrap the roast loosely in the foil.

After the roast rests, you can try to skim some of the fat from the sauce.

Don't forget to remove the bay leaves. They are not edible.

Now the roast is rested and it's time to carve the roast!

Add some mashed potatoes and biscuits, and it's a meal!

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