Saturday, April 22, 2006

Is it Pot Roast or is It Soup -- Either Way It Has a Kick -- You Decide

Pot Roast with a Kick

If you are like me you like your pot roast so soft that the meat falls apart when you look at it. As much as I try to limit my red meat intake, there is something about the lushness of well braised or stewed beef. Maybe it’s the mouth feel -- rich, moist and succulent. Maybe it is how beef’s taste and texture, almost its gravitas, transforms and gentles seasonings so that a spicy sauce is tamed, making for a wonderful contrast of sauce and meat. (This pot roast recipe has an extra bonus – you can make it into a soup instead. See the Kramer Soup Variation at the end of the recipe for directions.)

The sauce carries a bit of a kick from the chili powder, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. It is a warm, spicy, almost hot taste with a smoky note. If you would like your sauce hotter or milder, adjust the seasoning accordingly. (New to chipotle peppers? You can find them canned in adobo sauce in many supermarkets, Latin grocery stores and on-line gourmet sites. Be careful just to use two chiles with the specific amount of sauce. The rest will store practically for eternity in a plastic storage container. Click here for Wikipedia's take on the ingredient.)

Of course, I can’t just eat a hunk of meat, so the pot roast sauce is filled with vegetables and greens. Serve it over noodles or potatoes. It would also be wonderful over soft polenta. Making it ahead only improves the taste (and ups the heat, beware) and leftovers reheat beautifully. Or you can shred the leftover beef and use as a taco, burrito or enchilada filling. Since I only eat red meat every now and then, I’ll freeze any extras in the leftover sauce and save it for a “no time to cook day.”

Pot Roast with a Kick
Serves 6 to 8

Note: This is a slow-cook recipe. Start early in the day or make it the night before.

1 tablespoon grapeseed or other vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and quartered and each quarter cut into thin slices
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon or more or less to taste of chili powder
3 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
2 teaspoons of adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
2 large carrots, cleaned and sliced into half inch rounds
2 red bell peppers, seeds and stem discarded, cut into one-inch pieces
1-28 ounce can of whole tomatoes, roughly chopped with all liquids reserved.
8 ounces dry red wine
2-3 cups chicken broth or stock
Salt to taste
1 bunch kale, cleaned, large stems discarded and chopped into half-inch pieces. (This needs to be a sturdy green, so turnip or collard greens would be okay substitutes, spinach or chard would not.)
Additional salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or roasting pan with lid on medium high heat. Add onions and sauté until just starting to turn color and soften. Add in garlic, red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, oregano, cumin and chili powder. Sauté for 20-30 seconds to release the aromas.

Add chuck roast and sear and brown on all sides. If your pan is too small to do this without steaming the meat, cut the roast in two and sear in batches. It should just take a minute or two for each side to brown. (Once the meat has browned, lower heat to medium if needed to keep onion mixture from burning.)

Add the chipotle chili pieces and adobo sauce. Let sauté a minute, but stand back and put on the exhaust fans, because the fumes can sting your eyes! Add carrots and bell peppers and sauté around the roast for a few minutes, then add the cut-up tomatoes and their can of juice. Mix well to combine vegetable ingredients.

Add red wine and then chicken stock until total level of liquids in the pan comes up to three-quarters the height of the chuck roast. It is this moist environment that will infuse the roast with flavor, soften the tough meat fibers and give you a wonderfully soft texture.

Bring liquids to just under a boil, reduce heat to low. Taste (carefully, it will be hot) for salt. If needed, try adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon or more or less as desired. (Some chicken stocks have higher levels of sodium than others.)

Cover pot and let simmer on low heat for one hour. Every half hour or so, flip the chuck roast so the other side is submerged in the liquid and the bottom becomes the top. After an hour, add chopped kale. Cover and simmer for another hour, again, flipping the chuck roast every half hour.

After two hours, check the meat. If it has reached the desired tenderness (i.e., soft and succulent), skip to finishing your pot roast. If it hasn’t, keep cooking and check (and flip) every half hour until done. Chuck roast needs long, slow cooking to become completely tender.

Finishing Your Pot Roast – Remove meat from pot and cover with foil to keep warm if desired. Stir liquids and vegetables left in pot and scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Raise heat to medium high and bring the cooking liquid and vegetable mixture to a boil. Let it cook down until the sauce thickens and reduces down so it is not too liquidy for your taste. Taste again and add salt and pepper to taste if needed. Return to simmer and add meat back in to reheat if necessary.

To serve, remove meat and slice, serve with sauce over noodles, pasta, polenta or other.

Kramer Soup Variation

Add 2 cups of peeled new potatoes, quartered (or chopped if large) into approximately one and one half inch pieces, when you add the kale.
When the roast AND the potatoes are tender, remove the meat from the liquid and vegetables, but do not reduce down the mixture.
Let the meat cool a bit then shred the meat by pulling the fibers apart with two forks. Return meat to liquid mixture being sure to mix well and getting up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. If the sauce is not “soupy” enough, add chicken stock until desired “soupiness” is achieved. Heat through. Taste for salt and pepper and add if necessary.

1 comment:

WhiteTrashBBQ said...

This pot roast sounds incredible. I wish I made it for dinner tonight. It's cold and rainy in Brooklyn and that would have warmed thing up!