NOT YOUR MOTHER'S POT ROAST...
(dare I say: soooo much better!)
Welcome to my fourth edition of Edible Living (the newsletter)— and the first for many of you! I’m excited to see many old and new faces, here—THANK YOU for being here. Some of you may be finding this in your inbox because you signed up for my newsletter before my SUBSTACK days. I hope you’ll stay, we’re just getting started!
Here we are, nearly mid-March! We’re so close to spring I could taste it. This weekend we had the gift of one 60-degree day and we flew open the doors and raced to the yard with bare arms, picking up sticks, burning leaves, clearing the garden. I even planted peas without checking the date—why not?
But then last night we had an epic wind storm, after a long rainy day that called for a hot, brothy meal. We’re not out of the woods just yet.
It is exactly this wonky, weird-weathered few weeks that I think of as Pot Roast Season—a dish I crave most in the rainy days right before spring arrives. It’s the kind of thing that might sub in nicely for Corned Beef and Cabbage on St. Patrick’s day next week, if you don’t fancy corned beef (I don’t). It’s also a thing that on the second or third reheat breaks up into a soupy delight to sop up with crusty white bread—akin to beef Stew.
You should know that Pot Roast never did much for me as a kid. Really, nothing at all. Except: the carrots! Those warm, toothsome carrots swimming in jus? Perfection.
It is the carrots, initially, that got us here, to this beautiful moment, below. It is carrots that got me (a lover of soup and green things and sweets!) to include a recipes for Pot Roast in my latest cookbook, Instant Family Meals, and work like a demon to make it the best, juiciest, most flavorful braised meat to ever emerge from a brothy jus.
It’s the carrots we have to thank for a newsletter where I am about to tell you that pot roast is THE EXACT THING YOU SHOULD COOK THIS WEEK, OR NEXT!
Having a high-octane boy was also a pretty substantial nudge. He is full out gusto in all possible ways and inspires me to bring it when it comes to family dinner. To go full out. Not full out as in difficult—(this is an actual breeze). But full out as in satisfying, hearty, and plentiful. Full out as in BIG FLAVOR.
Full out as in: WORTH IT.
You’re not going to see meat on the plate at my house very often: both my husband and daughter are mostly-vegetarian. So when I do cook meat, and when I do share it with you here, I can promise you without utter conviction that it will count. It will be seasoned beautifully well, and cooked to low and slow perfection.
I can also promise you that it will be surrounded with copious amounts of vegetables—deeply flavored (my mostly-vegetarians will eat vegetables cooked in broth/with meat; of course not all do/will) and topped with a bright, shaggy herb-forward finish.
The copious vegetables are there because it’s better for you that way. But as importantly—the vegetables are so darn delicious. They are not only what gives the broth it’s richness, but they make an irresistible built-in side. This recipe goes double on the carrots, plus just enough red or white potatoes, which cook to a creamy finish.
Don’t skip the flaky salt at the finish—it’s absolutely integral to the pop of flavor in every bite. Ditto the herbs. Oh, and please do not let the harissa scare you off—it’s the backbone of the wow factor here. You’ll see.
P.S. Last week I offered you a chance to upgrade to paid subscriber status, and in the process support World Central Kitchen, which is at this moment feeding Ukrainian Refugees in Poland, Hungary and Romania. This week I’m donating 25% of paid subscriptions to WCK, including gift subscriptions. When you subscribe, know you’ll also be getting the extras: the deep dives, personal essays and 2 bonus recipes every month—including one Friday of this week. I hope to see you there.
BIG FLAVOR, DOUBLE THE VEGETABLES POT ROAST
*COOK’S NOTE: ON THE STOVE TOP, THIS IS A LONG-BRAISED MEAL (ROUGHLY 3 HOURS) BUT USING A PRESSURE COOKER SHAVES DOWN THE TIME TO UNDER AN HOUR. INSTRUCTIONS FOR SLOW COOKER AND STOVE-TOP VERSIONS LIVE BELOW, TOO.*
1 (2½- TO 3-POUND) BONELESS BEEF BRISKET OR CHUCK ROAST, TRIMMED OF EXCESS FAT
1¼ TEASPOONS FINE SEA SALT, PLUS MORE TO TASTE
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1 TABLESPOON EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1 LARGE ONION, THINLY SLICED
3 CELERY STALKS, CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
2 GARLIC CLOVES, THINLY SLICED
1 TABLESPOON HARISSA PASTE OR SPICY TOMATO PASTE
1 BAY LEAF
1 TABLESPOON ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR OR GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR
½ CUP DRY WHITE WINE, SUCH AS SAUVIGNON BLANC
5 LARGE CARROTS, CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
2 CUPS BEEF OR CHICKEN BROTH
6 BABY POTATOES (WHITE OR RED), HALVED
4 WHOLE CANNED SAN MARZANO TOMATOES, DRAINED AND CUT INTO 1-INCH PIECES
1 TABLESPOON APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
1 PACKED CUP FRESH MINT LEAVES, DILL LEAVES, OR A COMBINATION, ROUGHLY CHOPPED
FLAKY SEA SALT, SUCH AS MALDON
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
1. SEASON THE ROAST ON ALL SIDES WITH 1 TEASPOON OF THE SALT AND SOME PEPPER AND LEAVE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES.
2. POUR THE OLIVE OIL INTO THE INNER POT OF THE PRESSURE COOKER AND SET IT TO SAUTE. WHEN THE OIL IS HOT, ADD THE ROAST AND BROWN ON ALL SIDES, ABOUT 8 MINUTES TOTAL. TRANSFER TO A PLATE.
3. ADD THE ONION AND CELERY TO THE INNER POT, AND COOK, STIRRING OFTEN, UNTIL THE ONION HAS SOFTENED SLIGHTLY, 5 TO 7 MINUTES. ADD THE GARLIC, HARISSA, AND BAY LEAF AND COOK UNTIL FRAGRANT, 1 MINUTE MORE. SPRINKLE THE FLOUR OVER ALL AND STIR BRISKLY FOR 30 SECONDS TO COAT. ADD THE WINE AND STIR, ABOUT 1 MINUTE.
4. RETURN THE ROAST TO THE INNER POT AND ADD THE CARROTS, BROTH, AND THE REMAINING ¼ TEASPOON SALT. LOCK ON THE LID AND PRESSURE COOK ON HIGH PRESSURE FOR 45 MINUTES. RELEASE THE PRESSURE MANUALLY.
5. OPEN THE LID AND ADD THE POTATOES AND TOMATOES TO THE INNER POT. LOCK ON THE LID AGAIN AND PRESSURE COOK FOR 4 MINUTES ON HIGH PRESSURE. RELEASE THE PRESSURE MANUALLY AND OPEN THE LID. THE POTATOES AND BEEF SHOULD BE TENDER BUT HOLD THEIR SHAPE.
6. TASTE AND ADJUST THE SEASONING, ADDING MORE SALT AND PEPPER AS NEEDED AND A SPLASH OF VINEGAR, IF DESIRED. TRANSFER THE ROAST TO A CUTTING BOARD AND LET IT REST FOR 10 TO 15 MINUTES (TO KEEP THE ROAST JUICY).
7. MEANWHILE, COOK THE JUICES (WITH THE VEGETABLES) IN THE INNER POT ON THE SAUTE SETTING UNTIL THEY THICKEN SLIGHTLY, ABOUT 3 MINUTES. LEAVE ON THE KEEP WARM SETTING UNTIL READY TO SERVE.
8. THINLY SLICE THE ROAST ACROSS THE GRAIN. SERVE WARM, WITH A GENEROUS QUANTITY OF VEGETABLES, POURING THE JUICES OVER THE TOP. TOP WITH THE FRESH HERBS AND SPRINKLE EACH PORTION WITH SOME FLAKY SEA SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER.
PREP TIME: 20 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 ½ HOURS (includes curing time)
SERVES 4 TO 6
SLOW COOKER OR STOVE TOP:
Don’t have an instant pot? Make this pot roast in a slow cooker, instead. In a skillet, brown the roast in oil until it is a deep brown on two sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a slow cooker, add the remaining ingredients and the meat. Cover and cook on High for 4 hours or on Low for 6 to 8 hours. Then continue with the instructions above.
This also works in a Dutch oven. Follow the instructions above up through step 4, then cover with a tight fitting lid, and braise on low for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the vegetables are tender and the meat is falling off the bone. Then continue as above.
This recipes is from my book, Instant Family Meals. If you don’t have the book, there’s a link below to grab your own copy. And, if you’re a paid subscriber and you want a signed book plate (for this or any of my books) popped into the mail for you, just email me back and we’ll get that done.