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Wide Open Table: Remembrance Of Roast Beefs Past

There were very few Sundays growing up when we didn’t sit down to a nice roast beef dinner with potatoes, gravy and other roasted vegetables. I grew up in Montana, where beef was (and still is) very much the king of proteins.

My mom or dad did some prep on those mornings and got the meal going just before we left for church. We would return to the heavenly scent of slowcooked roast beef. It’s an ideal dinner for a weekend evening when you have a bit of extra time to cook it nice and slow. I’m willing to bet that a good chunk of Montana residents would describe themselves as “meat and potatoes” people. And while my tastes have broadened over the years, I’ll admit that meat and potatoes still have a home among my culinary preferences. Having great beef means we need great recipes to make the most of it.

That’s where this recipe comes in. I took the lessons learned from my youth, experimented with different techniques and ingredients, and came up with this memorable meal that is perfect for sitting around a table and enjoying each other’s company. Before you get going, here are some helpful tips.

Pick a roast with good marbling. Tiny bits of fat speckled throughout the roast will melt down during the low-and-slow cooking process, creating the most flavorful and fork-tender beef. If the chuck roast looks super lean, you may not get the best result. Fat is your friend!

Don’t skip the initial sear. It creates some brown bits at the bottom of the pan that you can scrape up when the wine goes in, providing great flavor. The crust you create with the sear, coupled with the portion of the meat that remains above the braising liquid while the lid is off, makes for a perfect contrast in textures.

The blending of the tiny bits of veggies into the sauce at the end creates a silky gravy that baptizes the beef and sides with savory goodness. The color is a nice, deep brown that will beat any gravy you’ve ever had. You’ll want every day to be Sunday.

Roast Beef

3 lbs chuck roast 1 medium red onion, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups) 2 carrots, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) 2 garlic cloves 1 large sprig fresh rosemary 2 tbsp tomato paste 2 14.5 oz. cans low-sodium beef broth 3 tbsp flour 1 cup red wine 2 cups water 4 tbsp olive oil salt and pepper Serves 6-8 people Prep time: 1/2 hour Cook time: 3 1/2 hours The day before, unpackage your thawed chuck roast and pat it dry with paper towels to help with the browning process. Place it on a wire rack on a baking sheet in the refrigerator to dry out the exterior.

The next day, let your roast come to room temperature for an hour. Heat a cast iron Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Season your roast with plenty of salt and pepper on both sides. Put one tablespoon of the olive oil in the pan and sear the roast for at least five minutes on each side, or until a brown crust forms on both sides. Place the roast on a plate and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and add your chopped red onion, chopped carrots and the rest of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and sweat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Peel and smash the garlic cloves and sauté for five minutes.

Add the tomato paste and flour and stir to spread out, allowing the ingredients to cook together for three minutes. Add the red wine, stir to scrape up any bits off the bottom of the pan, and reduce the liquid by half. Add the beef broth, water and rosemary sprig and bring to a simmer. Place the roast and any juices from the plate into the Dutch oven. The roast should not be totally submerged. With the lid on, place the Dutch oven in a 325 degree oven for two hours. Then remove the lid and cook for another hour or hour and a half, checking to see when the roast is fork tender and shreds easily.

Remove the roast from the Dutch oven to an oven-safe dish and place in the oven to stay warm. Take out the rosemary stem and use an immersion blender to blend the remaining contents of the Dutch oven into a gravy for two minutes. Check for salt and pepper levels and adjust according to your preferences. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta.

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