Crazy-simple Pot Roast

Lynne did a show recently where she mentioned off-hand that if you use your dutch oven on a cooktop instead of your oven you’ll get similar results and save a lot of energy. We’ve always done roasts in the oven and we had a roast in the fridge so I thought I’d give this a whirl. But I was also short on time (less than 1.5 hours until dinner) and short on ingredients too, so I tried making the simplest pot roast I could think of. Turned out great.

  • 1.5-2lb beef roast
  • 2 carrots, peeled, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 giant russet potato (peeling optional), diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
  • olive oil

Heat the dutch oven on medium-high. Put some oil on, heat it right below the smoke point. Thoroughly salt and pepper one side of the roast, then put that side down on the dutch oven. While it’s searing salt and pepper the other side. Sear for a minute or two then flip. Sear on the other side then remove the roast to a plate. Should be nice and brown, crusty on both sides.

Loosen the fond off the bottom, add more olive oil and throw in the vegetables. Toss with more oil and saute for a few minutes. Add a splash of water, the wine, bring to a slow boil, reduce to a simmer and cover for 10-15 minutes. You want the potatoes to start showing signs of cooking and the onions starting to become translucent.

Place the roast on top of the vegetables, cover and continue simmering. After 20 minutes start checking the internal temp of the roast. Take it off the heat when it reaches an internal temp of 120F, should take about 20-30 minutes. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

If you want to make this complicated you could add fresh mushrooms, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, shallots, dried porcini mushrooms, a little beef stock (instead of water), or maybe a little butter (as a substitute for some of the oil). If you want to get fancy you could reduce the sauce with some additional wine and butter (maybe a touch of cognac and fresh herbs too?) and pour that over the roast when serving. Most of the crowd at my house wouldn’t appreciate that though.

What’s especially great about this is if you don’t eat the whole thing you can chop the rest of the roast, make a quick roux from 2 tbsp flour + 3 tbsp butter, add 2 cups chicken stock and 1 tsp cognac or brandy then simmer for a few minutes and you’ve got a beef stew out of the leftovers. Sounds cliche you’ll want to say “bam!” after completing the stew.

Matsutake Bisque

Fall is matsutake season in the Pacific Northwest. We went mushroom hunting last weekend and came back with a few pounds–they’re easy to find if you know where to look.

  • 1 lb fresh matsutake mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 8 tbsp half and half
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Saute mushrooms and onion in olive oil over high heat. The mushrooms will release most of their liquid after a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates. Add beef broth, bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes.

Transfer mushrooms and onions to blender along with a cup or two of liquid. Blend on high speed until smooth. Transfer blended mixture back to stock and mix thoroughly.

Make a roux with the butter, flour and half and half. In a separate pan melt butter on medium heat, add flour and stir vigorously with a fork until butter produces dense bubbles, about 60-90 seconds. Add half and half and continue stirring vigorously until thickened, then stir roux into mushroom stock.

Serve. Fresh parsley would make a nice garnish on top.

Julia’s mushroom bisque recipe calls for stirring in a few egg yolks at the end, and using a bay leaf in the stock. I haven’t tried it with the matsutakes but I suspect it will detract from the unique nutty/woody flavor of the matsutake. I am curious however..