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The Case of the Orphaned Pot Roast

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with big, one-pot dish on the weekends. Sometimes, such as with the Smoky Chili, the Mojo-Marinated Pork Stew and the Lamb Stew with White Beans and Turnip, it works out well, and sometimes, well, let’s just say that it just works out. Such was the case last weekend, when I made a pot roast for the first time.

A few caveats here: the first is that I don’t think I’ve ever had a pot roast before, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. The second, is that I hate beef stew, which, as I got deeper and deeper into it, I realize is very similar to a pot roast.  The last caveat is that I was suckered into this experiment by a picture on a blog, and not just any blog, but this very blog that I run. Let me explain. The picture is in this post here, which was written by a friend of mine, another neighborhood dad who made the pot roast look easy and delicious. A week or so ago, I was flipping through Stay at Stove Dad, and I came upon that post. The picture, of a rich and caramelized piece of beef,  was just too enticing.

So I got started. I went to the Park Slope Food Coop for my beef. Bill, the man in charge of the meat there, waxed euphorically about the pot roast, and procured for me a nice cut of chuck, with the bone in the center, which he said was very important. He pointed me to a recipe he used, and had posted on the Coop’s website.

I needed something that I could cook on the stovetop, because my fancy-pants Jenn-Air oven is still, still, still on the fritz (despite repeated calls to the company and a local service shop, but that’s another story for another time). The recipe on the Coop’s site called for cooking the meat in the oven, so I consulted a few other recipes online and came up with my own.

Based on my previous experience with it, I turned to the smoked Spanish Paprika that makes my chili such a marvel. I used shallots instead of onions, and I added some gorgeous fingerling potatoes. Also, I threw in some carrots and some garlic, and a bit of red wine. It started off smelling rich and wonderful, but then something funny happened on the way to way to dinner—it took forever, as in seven hours, to get the meat tender, and I don’t exaggerate.

I think I took the instructions “to cook at a low heat” a little too seriously. I started it at 2 pm that Sunday afternoon, and the meat wasn’t tender until about 9 that night. It was too late for us to eat that evening for dinner, which was fine anyway. All my girls—Santa Maria included—pretty much spurned it all week.

I’m not really sure why they didn't like it. Though I hate beef stew, and this was suspiciously similar to it, I found the meat to be rich and delicious. The sauce was wonderful and savory, (though I would have thickened it up a bit if I was serving it to company).

Because we couldn’t eat it the night I made it, I put the whole pot in the fridge for a day. This allowed the fat to congeal, and I skimmed it off the top, making it a rather healthy dish. I ate it for lunch and dinner a number of times last week. It might have been orphaned by my family, but I adopted it as my own.

Pot Roast with Smoked Paprika

  • One 3-4 lb. piece of beef chuck 
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • 6-7 shallots, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 6 carrots, quartered and cut into 3-4 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 6-8 fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken or turkey stock

Rub the beef with the paprika and some salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven outfited with a little butter, brown the beef on each side, about five or so minutes.

Remove the meat and set aside in a bowl.

Saute the shallots, carrots, and celery until the shallots are soft.

Add the garlic, and saute a few minutes more.

Add the wine and reduce.

Add the potatoes, the beef, and the stock, and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3-7 (ha!) hours, or until tender.

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