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.
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
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.
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?