Making a house into a home is difficult. It helps that we’re mostly unpacked. It helps that our cats are here. But there’s a certain comfort level of a home that hasn’t quite developed yet.
I firmly believe that food and cooking can be a vital part of making a home a home. To share a meal with family is an important component of this. And while we’ve had family over for dinner (including just before Christmas when we realized that more people were coming than we owned chairs), the most basic, and most frequent, family dinner we can have consists of solely Angela and me.
There’s something to be said that the food served at a family dinner can be an important component of homeyness. Despite never eating it growing up, pot roast strikes me as one of the most homey meals possible. A slowly braised piece of meat conjures up images of a Sunday dinner in the wintertime shared with family. But, when you really come down to it, it also conjures up images of good food.
If you’ve ever read this blog in the past, you may easily realize that my cooking tends toward Italian. And that holds true even for something that can seem as Italian as pot roast.
This is a simple preparation of beef braised in red wine and beef stock. A few aromatic vegetables are used in a sofrito first. Some tomato paste is added mainly for color. There are a few herbs in the sauce. It’s very simple but very satisfying.
This is really a variation on Beef with Barolo. My wallet doesn’t allow me to buy Barolo, let alone cook with it. Instead, I used a 2006 Mandolina Nebbiolo Barbera as well as the remainder with dinner. It worked well in both cases.
Italian Pot Roast of Beef Braised in Red Wine
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
2 lbs. beef chuck roast
salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp onion, finely diced
3 tbsp carrot, finely diced
2 tbsp celery, finely diced
3/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
1 tbsp tomato paste
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh marjoram
- Dry the chuck roast well on all sides. Tie the roast to keep it together. Season well with salt and pepper on all sides.
- Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a heavy dutch oven over high heat. Brown the chuck thoroughly on all sides in the hot oil. Set the beef aside and discard the hot oil.
- In the dutch oven, add 1 tbsp oil, the butter, the onion, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the onion becomes lightly gold. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Deglaze the dutch oven with the red wine, scraping all fond. Add the stock and the tomato paste and stir well to incorporate.
- Add the thyme and marjoram and return the beef to the dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, turning the meat every 20 minutes.
- Remove the beef from the dutch oven, place on a cutting board, and cover with a towel. Remove the springs of thyme and marjoram from the sauce and discard. Reduce the sauce in the dutch oven over high heat until it starts to become syrupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Slice the beef against the grain and serve with the sauce on top.