One of my family’s favourite Sunday meals centers around a Prime Rib Dinner. It’s not a cheap cut of meat (Prime Rib) but it’s fitting for a Sunday meal.
From Medieval times, the wealthy used to get to eat the tender, more expensive cuts and the rest of us were left with scraps, offal and tough cuts. Here’s where the Pot Roast comes in. Leaner, more muscular and tougher cuts of the steer are all ideal for a pot roast. A pot roast is best cooked slowly, with some braising liquid.
Possible cuts of beef ideal for a pot roast are arm roast, centre-cut chuck roast, eye roast and my personal favourite, the cross rib roast. The cross rib roasts we get from our butcher looks like a small American football with that butcher’s material binding it (looks like fishnet).
Cooking a pot roast is very straight-forward: season your meat, brown on the stove and place in a pre-heated oven with braising liquid and vegetables. A dutch oven or oven-safe pot with a lid are your mandatory vessels. Choose a vessel that will have enough room for the vegetables and liquid to surround your meat.
I love Pot Roast on a Sunday. It’s easy, economical, consistent results and always delicious. I always serve garlic mashed potatoes with a Pot Roast. What better to scoop the mashed potatoes with some of the sauce from the roast? For mashed potatoes, I use Yukon Gold potatoes and I add one clove of garlic (for each potato) into a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil, season with salt and boil until fork-tender. Add your butter, milk and adjust seasoning with some salt and pepper. Throw in some chopped fresh chives to brighten up your mash.
Finally, splurge on a small bag of pearl onions. Most of the regular onions in the recipe will break down into the dish. Pearl onions brighten up the platter. This beef with be succulent, juicy, flaky meat that you should carefully carve with one of those electric knives. I made a open-face hot beef sandwich with the leftovers and you know what? Still moist and juicy.
1 Cross-rib beef roast, 4-6 lbs.
1 bag of pearl onions (12-15 in bag)
2 large onions, peeled and quartered
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into medallions
2 stalks of celery, cut into inch pieces
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. of tomato paste
2 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves
1 cup of red wine
approx 1 cup of water
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for searing
Pre-heated 350F oven
- Rinse your beef and pat-dry. Place your oven-safe vessel on your stove-top over medium high heat. Add 2-3 turns of olive oil into the pot. Season your beef with salt and pepper. Brown your meat on all sides and then reserve.
- In the same vessel, lower the heat to medium and the quartered onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and tomato paste and some salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or so and then add the wine. Stir and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the wine and simmer for 5-7 minutes to cook off some of the alcohol.
- Now add your beef back into the pot along with enough hot water to come up to the sides of beef, with about 1/3 of the beef not submerged in liquid. Add your thyme, bring to a boil and taste the liquid and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Put the cover on your vessel and place in your pre-heated 350F oven for 2 hours.
- In the meantime, let’s blanche and peel the pearl onions. Have a bowl of ice water ready and place a small pot of water on your stove-top and bring to a boil. Rinse the pearl onions to remove any dirt on the skins. When the water comes to a boil, add the onions and after the water returns to a boil, cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the water and place immediately in the ice bath. Once the onions have cooled, drain and simply squeeze each onion to remove the skins (which are discarded).
- After two hours, take your pot roast out of the oven and add your pearl onions. Place back in the oven (uncovered) for another 45-60 minutes. This step is going to reduce and concentrate the sauce.
- In the meantime, peel and cut your potatoes into uniform size and add 1 clove of garlic for each potato into the water with the potatoes. Bring to a boil, add salt and then simmer until fork tender. Strain well and then add some butter. Now add some warm milk and mash some more. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and some ground pepper. Add a handful of chopped chives and keep your garlic mashed potatoes warm.
- By now your pot roast should be ready. Take your beef out and allow to rest. Remove the vegetables (and bay leaves, discard) with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Is your sauce thick enough for you? If not, you can take a couple ladles of sauce along with some vegetables and puree in a blender and add back to the rest of the sauce to thicken it. Another option is to mash 1 Tbsp. of butter into 1 Tbsp. of flour and mix with a fork. Add to your sauce and simmer until it thickens.
- Remove the netting from the beef and discard. Cut the beef into slices and arrange on a platter with the vegetables around the meat. Serve a ladle of sauce over the meat and serve with a side of garlic mashed potatoes.
- Serve with a Papayianni Xinomavro-Cab. Sauvignon-Syrah, ideal for a Sunday roast.
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