Pot Roast…er…braise.

This really isn’t a roast, since it isn’t dry roasted, but rather braised very much like osso buco. The Professional Chef calls this “Yankee Pot Roast” in spite of the fact that it’s a braise. Anyway, it does yield a very nice roast, and a wonderful gravy. We served it with mashed potatoes, peas, and the rolls in the prior post.

We bought a 2lb bottom round roast, and a package of raw, plain bratwurst.

You’ll also need:
1 white onion finely chopped
3 oz or so of tomato paste
8 oz red wine (we had a Rosemount Shiraz on hand)
2 carrots finely chopped
1 parsnip finely chopped (or not, we happened to have one on hand)
3 to 4 cans of low sodium beef broth (or your own homemade stock, but we’re currently out of that)
Pepper – no salt – there is salt enough in the low sodium broth to get things started.
Veg. Oil (2 tbsp or so).
Fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme and rosemary. A couple of sprigs of each.
1 dry bay leaf.

Pepper the roast lightly.
Over medium high heat, sear the meat on all sides in the hot oil, in a roasting pan (or other pan, but you may have to play the transfer game to get things where you want them in the end) until it is a dark brown all over, then set it aside, and add the onion, carrot, and parsnip. Sautee it until nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and let it cook a minute or so, stirring it, until it gives off a sweet smell. Add the wine, and reduce it by at least half. Then put the roast back in the pan and add 2 to 3 cans of the broth (or enough to come halfway up the roast). Add the raw brats (or german rope sausage, or whatever you like – a small pork roast, also seared, would be fine as well – I find that having a beef and pork mixture of some sort makes for more interesting gravy in the end.)
Put the lid on it, and put it in a 350 to 375 degree oven for about 2.5 hours. Turn it now and then to keep it moist, and make sure you’ve got a decent level of liquid in the pan. Add the herbs, and perhaps a bit of garlic powder or a clove of garlic.

We also made a carrot cake and the hot rolls, so there were times it came out of the oven and went onto two burners over medium heat on the stove for a while. It’s a covered roasting pan, it really doesn’t matter – it isn’t as though with a braise we’re trying to take advantage of dry heat on all sides, instead we’ve got moist heat in a more or less sealed environment. With a heavy enough roasting pan, you could easily do this on the stove top the whole time and probably never notice a difference.

When the roast is done, the brats will have taken on a nice color as well, and will be well cooked. The cooking liquid will be nice and thick – in fact, I added a cup of water during cooking to keep the liquid level up where it needs to be.

Take the roast and sausages out and tent with foil on a cutting board. The juices need to be strained to get the herb stems and so on out. I have a chinois, so I poured everything through the chinois, and then worked it through, which served to puree the vegetables in the cooking liquid and force them through. Scrape the outside of the chinois down and stir the pureed veggies into the liquid. If you don’t have too much salt, and don’t mind it a little thin, you probably have gravy at this point. Gordon Ramsay did basically this with the gravy at the Fenwick Arms in a Kitchen Nightmares episode. I decided I wanted a little more volume, and wanted to dilute the salt just a bit as well. Had I had homemade beef stock on hand, I would not have had any salt problem at all, but let’s face it, even the low sodium beef broth by Swanson has more salt than is needed for most recipes. I added about 1 cup of water to the strained liquid to dilute the braising liquid, and then made a flour and butter roux about 3 tbsp flour to 3 tbsp butter, cooked that for a couple of minutes (stirring constantly), and then added the braising liquid to the roux and cooked it for several minutes at a low boil, stirring constantly.

The red wine, broth, carrot and tomato paste all gave their best to create a really nice, beefy, and very dark colored gravy, with the veggies in it providing a slight sweetness, nice body and texture that is often missing from gravy. Adjust seasoning – you’ll probably want more pepper, but with as salty as even low salt beef broth is, I can’t imagine wanting more salt.

If you’re following along in the Big Book of Braising, you’ll note that this method really isn’t any different than what you’d do to braise lamb shanks, soup bones, oxtail, short ribs, or beef/veal shanks.

Where we varied from the Professional Chef’s method is that in the last 30 minutes of simmering, they would have you add peeled turnips, potatoes, and pearl onions, which would be lovely, but we wanted mashed potatoes instead, so we omitted that step. If you added the root veggies, their starch would serve to thicken the braising liquid, and might make a roux unnecessary. It would still benefit from being run through a chinois or strainer to really even out the texture prior to serving, unless you don’t mind chunky veggies and wanted to de-stem your fresh herbs prior to adding them to the pot.

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One comment on “Pot Roast…er…braise.

  1. […] and I decided to braise some short ribs. We used our standard braising method (as described in our pot roast recipe), and came up with a really lovely meal. I also made a loaf of English muffin bread. It’s […]

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