This is by far the most popular dish on our menu at Mother’s Bistro & Bar, and it typifies what we do best – slow-cooked foods. I like to braise in the oven because the heat is indirect, so foods cook more evenly and there’s less chance of a hot spot in the pan scorching the food. Like most braised dishes, pot roast freezes and reheats well, so if you want leftovers, double the recipe.
4 pounds beef chuck, tied if desired 3 tsp kosher salt 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 medium yellow onions, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups) 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups) 3 cloves garlic 3/4 cup tomato purée 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, or Côtes du Rhône
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs Italian parsley)
6 to 8 cups Brown Veal stock or canned low-sodium beef broth
1. Heat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Using a sharp knife, trim any excess fat or gristle from the meat. Season with salt and pepper (you might need to use less salt if you’re using canned broth, which already has salt).
2. Choose a Dutch oven or stockpot just large enough to hold the meat flat. (If it’s too big, you’ll need too much liquid, which will dilute the flavors of the dish; too small, and the meat won’t cook evenly.) Place the pan over high heat for several minutes until hot. When hot, add the oil and heat until shimmering (adding the oil after the pan is hot keeps it from breaking down and getting smokey while the pan heats). Add the beef and brown on all sides. Transfer the meat to a plate or baking sheet and set aside.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic (since they will cook for a few hours, these larger pieces will have plenty of time to get tender); cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Adjust the heat to medium and continue cooking until very soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes (this deepens the tomato flavor).
4. Lower the heat to medium, add the flour, and mix well with a wooden spoon to make a roue. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir the wine into the roue a little at a time, allowing the roue to absorb the liquid before adding more. (This helps prevent lumps.) Be sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the meat to the pot. Add the bouquet garni and enough stock to rise two-thirds of the way up the meat (the amount will vary with the size and type of pot you are using, but don’t cover the meat entirely). Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover the pot tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and place on the center rack (or lower, if need be, to accommodate your pot) of the oven. Braise until the beef is fork-tender (it should fall right back into the pan when pierced with a two-pronged fork), about 2 hours.
5. If serving immediately, lift the beef out of the pot using tongs or a spatula and keep warm on a plate tented with foil. Strain the sauce through a strainer into another pot (if you like, pick out the carrots and serve alongside the beef, but discard the rest of the solids). Let the sauce sit for a few minutes. Then degrease the sauce by dragging a ladle or spoon over the top to catch any fat that has risen; discard. Repeat until most of the fat is removed. If the sauce is too thin, set the pot over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces and is slightly thicker. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
6.Using a sharp slicing knife, cut the beef across the grain into thick slices and serve with the sauce. (Don’t worry about getting beautiful slices – chunks of this meat are just as delicious).
7. If making this ahead of time (it keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days), remove the meat from the pan and let cool, and then place it in an airtight container and refrigerate. Strain the sauce into another container and refrigerate (you don’t have to defat it first). One hour before serving, remove the sauce from the refrigerator, scrape off any fat that has congealed on top, and discard. Slice the beef and put it in an ovenproof serving dish, pour the sauce over it, cover with foil, and heat in a 350° F oven for about 45 minutes. Serve hot.