Bowing to the Braising Pot

I was dreading cold weather until last Sunday night when I braised a chuck roast in my over-sized, fire-engine red braising pot. The pot that always yields comforting aromas. The kind of savory fragrances that draw your family to the kitchen table and infuse them with a warm soothing sensation when they first walk through the door after a long day at school or work.

braising

In denial that the weekend was coming to a close, I lingered on the couch a bit too long that Sunday afternoon. But the cooler air and vision of a busy Monday dragged me to the kitchen. I grabbed the big red pot, and with a burst of second-wind energy, started cooking.

I gathered supplies from my slightly barren pantry and refrigerator (thanks to my friendly neighbor with the well-stocked pantry for filling in the gaps):

  • the chuck roast
  • some half-used up boxes of stock
  • some half-empty red wine bottles
  • a bit of tomato paste
  • a can of diced tomatoes
  • onion, celery, carrots, fresh garlic, Herbes de Provence
  • and the 9.5 quart Le Creuset braising pot

braising

After sprinkling salt and pepper on the roast, I seared it over medium high heat in the big red pot for about 4 – 5 minutes per side. While it was searing, I sliced the onions into half moons and chopped up some baby carrots and a couple stalks of celery and several small cloves of garlic.

After the roast was seared, I set it aside on a large plate, reduced the heat to medium, added some olive oil to the pot and dropped in the onion. I let the onion start cooking for a minute or two, deglazed the yummies from the pan with some of the red wine, allowing the liquid to evaporate and then added the garlic, celery and carrots and a couple of teaspoons of Herbes de Provence. I let all this cook for another five minutes or so, then I placed the roast on top and added in a combination of beef stock (to which I had mixed in a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste), vegetable stock, and red wine until the liquid came halfway up the height of the roast. I smeared a bit more tomato paste on the top of the roast and then poured the can of tomatoes on top including the liquid.

After adding a bit more salt and pepper and Herbes de Provence, I covered the pot and placed it in a 325 degree convection roast oven. About two hours into the cooking, I added some baby potatoes and carrots, covered it back up and let it finish cooking for another hour or so. The meat was ready when it nearly fell apart when poked but still held its form.

braising

I quickly prepared some whole wheat couscous to serve it on, instead of the family favorite Japanese rice. The couscous created a lovely texture when combined with the roast and created a perfect receptacle for the richly flavored braising juices.

As I was putting the leftovers away, I turned around to see @DormantChef appearing to bow to the braising pot, his head fully submerged. He removed his head, saw my look of astonishment and said, “You can write about this now. Your husband liked the braised chuck roast so much, he wanted to smell the pot one more time before the flavor was washed away.”

The only thing that could have made that moment better? If he washed the pot when he was done sniffing. But a girl can’t have everything all the time can she?

I am not suggesting that you immerse yourself literally into the pot, but please embrace the technique of braising this fall and winter. It turns inexpensive (and expensive) cuts of meat into rich, flavorful, comforting food that may cause you, too, to bow to the brilliance of braising.

What’s the one dish that is sure to please you and your family when the weather gets colder?

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15 Responses to Bowing to the Braising Pot

  1. Lizthechef September 29, 2013 at 8:20 am #

    Nothing like a gorgeous roast to signal the arrival of fall!

    • Beth Lee September 29, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Yes – it took me a while to get off the couch to get it going but it was worth it!

  2. Britni September 29, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    Hmm now I want my husband to make his braised short ribs, maybe if I buy him a braising pot…

    • Beth Lee September 29, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Bribery will get you everywhere! Go for it Britni! and thanks for stopping by. How does he make his short ribs? Such a great fall/winter cut of meat.

  3. Stephanie R September 29, 2013 at 9:45 am #

    YUM! This looks incredible, I need to make a roast to ring in fall!

    • Beth Lee September 29, 2013 at 10:44 am #

      Do it – great for leftovers or for prepping ahead when you have the time. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Deb September 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    What an irresistible one-pot-dinner to welcome the first days of autumn! My Le Creuset dutch oven is one of the most well used pans in my kitchen. A warming curry bursting with seasonal vegetables is a favorite fall dinner at my house.

    • Beth Lee September 30, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      I have been dabbling a bit more with Indian dishes and spices – perhaps a good result of my adventures with Middle Eastern cuisine through Tasting Jerusalem. In fact, it’s interesting how much crossover there is. October’s ingredient will be tamarind, which really is more of a Southeast Asian ingredient but is found frequently in Middle Eastern cuisine as well. Your curry with seasonal vegetables has me excited for my chana masala leftovers for lunch!

  5. Kristia {Family Balance Sheet} September 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    My mother bought me a Le Creuset years ago for Christmas and it is my most used pan in the fall and winter. Mine is sour apple green and I don’t even know if they make the color anymore. I use it to make a lot of soups, but most favorite dish in the colder months is simple roasted chicken. I take the chicken out of the oven and onto the stove top where I make the gravy. YUM!

    • Beth Lee September 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

      I just saw a flyer from Sur La Table with a “new” color called Rosemary – I wonder if it is the reincarnation of the sour apple green.

      For a slightly different spin on the the beloved roast chicken, try putting grapes and shallots in to roast with it, with lemon and thyme as your accent flavors. It’s fantastic!

      Thanks for stopping by Kristia!

  6. Hannah September 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    I was sighing as I read this, Beth…you had me at comforting aromas. I can relate to the Sunday afternoon denial, too. What a perfect meal to draw you into the kitchen! I’m wrapped in a snuggly sweater and thinking about braising now – thanks for this delicious inspiration to pull out my Dutch oven. I love how you used all the bits and bobs from your fridge, as well. Beautiful!

    • Beth Lee September 30, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      I hope you are doing ok post-drop off. How much do I wish we could sit together this week and enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of wine and discuss our experiences. Email and social media will have to do for now..

      Let me know what you braise first – it’s my favorite cooking method – always looking for more ideas.

      Can’t wait to try your carrot soup – brilliant creation Hannah!

  7. Couscous & Consciousness October 2, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

    Hmmm, what a beautiful, comforting, nourishing autumn dish, Beth – I can just about smell the aromas from here!! Braising is definitely a great way to use some of those inexpensive cuts of meat, making it a very economical way to cook – a big, cast iron, Dutch oven is just the tool for the job – I love my one and I use it a lot for cooking, amongst other things, a slow roasted leg of lamb.

  8. Mimi of Mimi Avocado May 7, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

    WOW you have a big pot! My red pot is perfect for two…and that’s how many we have at home now that the four children have flown. Can’t wait to braise a roast…we’ll see if The Farmer has a similar reaction!

    • Beth Lee May 8, 2015 at 7:59 am #

      Let me know if The Farmer loves the big red pot as much as my DormantChef does!

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