Chef Peter Webster – Bouquet Garni
As the leaves turn to their autumn splendor, I look for comfort foods to help with the transition to colder months ahead. I noticed blade roasts were on sale at one of the grocery stores. The blade roast or chuck roast is an inexpensive cut of meat taken from the neck of the cow. It is made for braises and stews where slow cooking tenderizes this cut of beef.
To be honest, I had never made a pot roast. I remember them from my childhood only. But cool weather meals definitely included braises and stews so I decided I could do this! One of my passions of cooking is creating tasty sauces to go with meats. I happened to have my mom visiting from Muskoka this week, so this would be a good time to prepare this dish from my childhood and have my mom on hand to critique it.
Ingredients: feeds about 6-8
2 blade roasts, about 2 lbs each
Steak spice or your own dry beef rub
Oil or bacon fat
2 onions, skin on, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, skin on and halved
4 celery, roughly chopped
2 carrots, skin on, washed and roughly chopped
3 sprigs of thyme
1 large can of chopped tomatoes
3 cups of beef stock
12 fingerling potatoes, washed, left whole
6 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch segments
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp of flour
Preheat your oven to 325ºF.
I used a Crueset pot with lid for this dish. It is a heavy bottomed casserole dish with a tight fitting lid. Heat about 3 tbsp of oil or bacon fat in the Crueset. Sprinkle the steak spice all over the two roasts. When the oil is hot, sear one of the roasts on all sides until well browned. Set aside and sear the other roast, adding more oil or bacon fat as needed. Set the second roast aside.
In the Crueset, heat another 2 tbsp of oil or bacon fat. Add in your roughly chopped onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Stir the vegetables over high heat until nicely golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add in about 1 cup of the beef stock and scrape the bottom of the pan, loosening up any of the brown bits (sugars) adhering to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the can of chopped tomatoes. Add in the beef roasts so they are side by side. Add in the rest of the stock as well as the thyme. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. You will be cooking the roasts for about three hours.
During the last hour of cooking, add in the whole potatoes and the carrots.
When the last hour is up, remove the roast from the oven, leaving the pan on the counter, covered to cool for 20 minutes. Remove the roasts, potatoes and carrots from the pan to a covered dish. Pass the liquid from the Crueset through a sieve into a sauce pan. Press on the solids in the sieve to extract as much liquid as possible. Skim off the fat from the top of the liquid, saving 4 tbsps.
In a separate saucepan, heat the 4 tbsp of reserved fat until very hot. Stir in the 3 tbsp of flour and stir about one minute and remove from the heat. This is your roux, used to thicken the gravy. Heat the liquid in the saucepan and stir in the roux until the desired thickness is achieved. Taste your gravy and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
Slice the pot roast. On each plate, place the meat, potatoes and carrots. Spoon over the gravy and serve.
Oh yes – my Mom’s critique?? Delicious.