Wednesday was Rich’s birthday – but his office planned an outing to celebrate after work, so he got his ‘his-day’ feast on Thursday. He had a taste for a pot roast; so I dusted off my version of Alton Brown’s recipe
• 1 (2-lb) chuck roast
• 2 tsp kosher salt – I used sea salt
• 2 tsp cumin – I used Cajun Seasoning
• Vegetable oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 5 to 6 cloves garlic, smashed
• Coarsely chopped celery ribs – I also use the tender centers and leaves
• Coarsely chopped peeled carrots
•Peppers – I use whatever I have in the crisper – red, orange, yellow and/or green
Note: I use theveggies for flavoring, not eating, and so don’t get too caught up in how many will be enough to serve with the roast.
Alton uses 1 cup tomato juice, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 cup cocktail olives, drained and roughly chopped, and 1/2 cup dark raisins. The raisin concept was freaking me out – so I went my own way:
To make about 2 cups of liquid, I mixed some ketchup with some Worcestershire sauce, some French’s yellow mustard (I really like the hint of ‘bright’ sharpness it adds) and some Cajun Power spicy garlic sauce (if you don’t have this on hand – you can use Tabasco or the condiment of your choice – OR you can check out cajunpower.com – LOTS of great stuff – and their Sloppy Boudreaux is great for pulled pork).
Preheat the oven to 200º. Place a wide, heavy skillet or fry pan over high heat for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, rub both sides of meat with the salt and cumin. When the pan is hot (really hot) brown meat on both sides and remove from pan. Add just enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan then add the veggies. Stir constantly until onion is softened. NOTE: I also added a swirl of sweet vermouth. Add the tomato juice, vinegar, olives, and raisins – OR – use whatever mixture you’ve opted for. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid by half. Create a pouch with wide, heavy duty aluminum foil. Place half the reduced liquid/chunk mixture on the foil, add the roast, and then top with the remaining mixture. Close the pouch, and wrap tightly in another complete layer of foil. Cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until a fork pushes easily into the meat. Remove from oven and rest (still wrapped) for at least 1/2 hour. Snip off 1 corner of the foil pouch and drain the liquid into a bowl or measuring cup. Add some of the “chunkies” and puree with an immersion blender. OK – I don’t do this – to me the sauce is too fatty. I serve the roast with some of the Barefoot Contessa’s horseradish sauce – I’ll post that recipe later. Slice meat thinly, or pull apart with a fork. Serve with sauce.