07 February 2008

Learning to Love Pot Roast

I decided, somewhat on a whim, to buy short ribs recently at the Farmer's Market. I am a firm believer that there is a drug pumped into the air of Farmer's Markets. It makes you purchase ingredients you would normally avoid, sample vegetables that look as though they come from Mars and buy cuts of meat you don't eat. I don't eat any meat that needs to be cooked for 12 hours to be tasty. Well... at least I thought I didn't.

Pot roast was a staple of my childhood. I don't think that my mom did anything unusual (or bad) to the pot roast. In fact, I have eaten her pot roast recently and thought to myself, "Huh? Why didn't you like this when you were a child?" I just never really understood why my sister or mom seemed to love the stuff. It was just shredded beef. Well, taste buds change - and I suppose I should be grateful. 2007 was Josie's Year to learn to appreciate just shredded beef. I think it started with a taco. Of course if you put a Mexican twist on a June Bug, I would probably eat it. I think I stole a bite or two of my mom's burrito with shredded beef... and I fell in love. The meat melts in your mouth and has a rich, delicious, beefy flavor that cannot be reproduced through faster methods of preparation.

I began to order braised meat dishes when J and I went out to eat. Suddenly, you couldn't keep me away from Short Rib Osso Buco or any other shredded beefy goodness on a menu. Who knew I had such a shredded beef corner in my stomach? Of course, simply eating this delightful new discovery out at restaurants wasn't good enough for me. What does any self-respecting foodie? Figure out how to make it at home. So maybe the air at the Market wasn't drugged when I randomly purchased short ribs, and later beef shank. Maybe it was just my foodie soul saying, "Get with it girl! Make this stuff at home!!" And so my Red Wine Braised Beef was born.


Red Wine Braised Beef
Serves 4 generously

3 lbs beef with bones (I used short ribs and beef shanks)
2/3 bottle good red table wine
1 large onion, roughly chopped
4 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
2 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (second can optional)
1 head roasted garlic
6-8 fresh sprigs of thyme
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
5 quart enameled cast iron French Oven

Preheat oven to 180 degrees F.
Lightly coat the meat with salt & pepper and flour. Reserve left-over flour. Using about 2 tablespoons olive oil, brown the meat in a single layer over medium-high heat in the French Oven. Be sure to brown all sides. Set browned meat aside on a plate. If the pot is really dry, add a tablespoon more of olive oil. Add all the vegetables, except the tomatoes, to the pot along with the extra flour. Allow the vegetables and flour to cook, stirring frequently, creating a bit of a roux-like coating on the vegetables. After the vegetables have cooked for about 5 minutes, add the wine to the pan and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Be sure to get all the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the roasted garlic and1 can of tomatoes, add the thyme. Add the meat back to the French Oven, and be sure to nestle it down into the liquid. The liquid should barely cover the meat. If the meat is completely covered, it is okay.
Cover with a tight lid and put the French Oven in the preheated oven. Ignore in the oven for at least 8 hours.

When you are ready to serve, remove the meat from the pan and reserve it on a plate. Put all of the pan juices and aromatics through a Food Mill into a clean pot large enough to hold the meat. Add the meat back to the sauce and allow to barely simmer until ready to serve. At this point I also like to add in a can of chopped fire roasted tomatoes and sometimes a tablespoon or two of Balsamic vinegar. Serve over smashed redskin potatoes with lots of the sauce... delicious!


Erica said...

That looks WONDERFUL. I've recently become interested in braised foods myself. We had the most delicious chinese braised pork shanks at Big Bowl (of all places) that were to DIE for. The difference is that I guess I'm not adventuresome enough to try it at home myself. Maybe your recipe will inspire me!

Laura said...

Yum, when are you going to make me short ribs?