Pot Roast of Epic Awesomeness, or

Pot Roast meets Boeuf Bourguignon and happily drowns in Ommegang’s Art of Darkness.

beef

Is there anything better than a pot roast on a chilly fall day? I think not. (Or if there is, you need to send it to me, stat!) I was never a huge fan of potroast growing up (I believe I went so far as to call it “peasant food” at one point, which earned me a supper-less early bedtime…but, um, ahem, I’m sure I had my good points as a teenager, too!)

But these days, a good potroast is a luxury treat! (Though come to think of it, I’d still call it “peasant food”…but sans negative connotations). Pot roast means I have a choice chunk of meat (usually a nicely marbled chuck roast), a plethora of root vegetables (hello parsnips, carrots, turnip, and spuds!), a mess of mushrooms and onions, some tasty braising liquid, and 2-3 hours to laze around the house drinking the leftover tasty braising liquid as the potroasty perfume builds with very little interference from moi. Heaven.

And while I really do enjoy pot roast, I have a deep and abiding love for Boeuf Bourguignon. A la Julia Child, of course. Something you start with lardons just can’t go wrong, right? But making proper boeuf bourguignon is a giant pain in the ass. Not to mention, it looks like a dervish tore through the kitchen when I’m done, and all my pots and pans are dirty. Tasty, but so. much. work. But. so. tasty. You see my conundrum?!

Well, I’ve solved the conundrum. I’ve taken all the best bits of boeuf bourguignon and migrated them to the humble pot roast, which also lets me play up the awesome features of that dish! I win!

My culinary mad-scientist tendencies aside, this really did work out for the very best, and I think the beer should get a lot of credit. I used a bottle of Ommegang’s Art of Darkness (a limited edition release, but you could use any good Belgian strong dark ale, or Russian imperial stout or porter and get similar results…you’re looking for a beer with dark fruity plummy notes and hints of chocolate!). The beer gives you some acidity to your braise, and also imparts deep dark delicious flavors that go amazingly well with the caramelization that will happen to your root veggies. And the gravy! Oh, the gravy will make you tapdance around your kitchen in ecstasy.

If you, too, want to create a cross between classic French beef stew and the ease of potroasty awesomeness, give this recipe a try!

Pot Roast with Dark Belgian Ale and Root Veggies

Ingredients

  • 4 lb. chuck roast, nicely marbled, no visible gristle
  • 2 T. bacon grease (or olive oil or cooking fat of your choice)
  • 1 large onion, sliced vertically into eight wedges
  • 1/2 lb. baby carrots (or cut up regular carrots…I had a bag of baby ones that needed using!)
  • 1 lb. parsnips, cut to same size as carrots
  • 1 lb. mushrooms (cut to similar size as carrots, if small enough, just leave whole)
  • 1 lb. teeny tiny (i.e. bite sized) yukon or red potatoes (or cut regular potatoes to size)
  • 12 oz. GOOD dark beer
  • up to 1 c. beef broth (homemade is awesome here!)
  • salt, pepper, dried thyme, and dried sage to taste
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. water
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat bacon grease in a large dutch oven over medium flame (I use a 6-qt.cast iron dutch oven…be sure you have a lid). Pat roast dry with paper towels on all sides, then brown on all sides (will take about 15 minutes total).
  3. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Add vegetables (onion, carrots, snips, & shrooms) and cook for 8 minutes or so, stirring frequently, till softened and slightly browned on the edges. Remove veggies from pan and set aside.
  4. Return meat to the pan. Add beer and enough broth to come 2/3 of the way up the side of the meat. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, and sage to taste. Add about 1/3 of the vegetable mixture back around the sides of the roast, cover tightly with lid, and bring to a simmer over high heat.
  5. Once simmering, pop the roast in the oven and cook, undisturbed, for 90 minutes.
  6. After 90 minutes, add potatoes and remaining veggies to the roasting pan (it’s OK if they cover the meat at this point; they’ll cook down!). Cover and continue cooking for another 30 minutes to an hour, undisturbed.
  7. Test meat to make sure it’s done before removing from the oven. Once meat is cooked to your liking, carefully remove meat and veggies from the roasting pan, leaving as much of the juices as you possibly can in the pan. Tent meat & veggies with foil and keep warm.
  8. Set roasting pan back on the stovetop and bring juices to a slow simmer over low flame. Remember that your pan just came out of a 350 degree oven…it’s HOT!!  Use potholders!!  Whisk flour into a couple tablespoons of milk (to eliminate lumps!), then mix with remaining milk and water. Whisk milk mixture into simmering drippings and cook, stirring CONSTANTLY till thickened and no longer floury-tasting, about 8-10 minutes. Season gravy with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. To serve, slice roast with a serrated knife and serve along with a generous pile o’ veggies and a lovely dollop of gravy.

This hybrid pot roast pairs well with a good dark beer (and knitting!)…

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What’s the best thing you’ve ever cooked with beer?

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