Praise for the Braise

Like many dedicated food folks seeking to get their fill of culinary inspiration from the television, my Saturday afternoons are frequently spent watching the always changing line-up of quality cooking shows on PBS.

Starting at 2 pm and continuing until 6 pm, these 30-minute shows provide an international scope of flavors and creativity that, depending on your location, can include Lidia Bastianich's Lidia's Italy in America, Steven Raichlen's Barbeque University, Jose Andres' Made In Spain, Mexico: One Plate at a Time with Rick Bayless, Avec Eric with Eric Ripert, Christopher Kimball's America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated as well as one of the newest additions to the celebrity chef line-up, Martha Stewart's Cooking School.

While watching the shows over the holidays, my husband, David, was absolutely mesmerized by a simple pot roast that was featured on Martha Stewart's Cooking School. So impressed, I might add, that he kept talking about it and finally asked if I could help him find the recipe online. With a few weeks of cold weather in South Texas, the thought of pot roast had not drifted far from his mind and he wanted to make this warm and comforting one-pot dish.

This photo courtesy of Martha Stewart's Cooking School

And so I began the search. While I was able to find the episode on braising and the dishes that were featured, the recipes were not yet online--despite that the episode aired in some parts of the country last September. (Look in the comments section and you'll see that there were many others who were also desperately seeking this recipe.)

Not surprisingly, my deep-rooted determination kicked in and I kept searching for a glimmer of something that would lead me to a possible solution so David could get his pot roast fix. Fortunately, I stumbled upon PBS's Washington, DC site which listed the name and email of a contact for Martha Stewart's Cooking School (MSCS).

When I emailed my desperate inquiry in search of the recipe, the staff member couldn't have been nicer and promised to send the pot roast recipe the next day! David was beyond impressed and ready for me to get cooking, while I was even more excited about my successful sleuthing skills.

Buen provecho!

Extra special thanks to Katherine Nash and Jana Branson of MSCS for making this possible. And thank you for also posting all of the recipes from the braising episode online. Now everyone will be able to get in the kitchen, learn how to sublimely braise meats and make this satisfying pot roast.

Simple Pot Roast
The Cowgirl Gourmet is genuinely grateful to Martha Stewart's Cooking School for sharing this recipe

Print recipe

My husband loves a good pot roast, but he didn't want to make a roast that was so tender it fell apart. Rather, he wanted one that sliced like a traditional roast beef as opposed to one that shreds . This recipe from the PBS show, Martha Stewart's Cooking School, was just what he had in mind. Tender and full of flavor from more than three hours of slow cooking, he was oohing and ahhing and completely satisfied with our new pot roast find. If you're looking for food that is old school, but has a modern day approach, this pot roast is it. Plus, the gravy might be one of the best ever!

Serves 8

For browning the meat:
3-4 pounds of chuck roast, all-natural or grass-fed, if possible, and tied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
Dutch oven

For aromatics:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced into chunks (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, organic, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 rib celery, organic, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme

For braising meat:
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups water

For garnish vegetables:
3/4 lb. small new potatoes, organic
3/4 lb. carrots, organic, peeled and, if smaller, cut in half lengthwise and, if larger, cut into 3-inch pieces and halve the thick ends and then cut into 3-inch pieces (4-5 medium carrots)

Heat a Dutch oven over high heat for 2 minutes. Pat meat dry with paper towels and then season on all sides with salt and pepper. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pot and heat until shimmering. Add the meat and sear until golden brown, turning to cook on all sides evenly for a total of about 8 minutes. (Don't be tempted to turn the meat too soon or it will stick to the pan and tear; instead, wait until it easily releases from the pot.) Once it is nicely browned all over, remove it from the pot.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add olive oil and all of the aromatics (onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme) and stir well to coat. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, 2-3 minutes. You may need to slightly increase the heat after a minute or two if the onion is not softening. If the garlic begins to burn, add a little water and stir up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the flour into the pot and stir to coat everything evenly; cook the flour just long enough to remove the starchy taste without taking on any color, about 30 seconds. Add vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Be sure and scrape up all of the browns bits from the bottom as this is what is going to deeply flavor your gravy.

Once the liquid boils, add the roast back in the pot; the liquid should just come up about 1 inch up the sides of the meat. Reduce the heat so the liquid is just simmering, not boiling, and cover the pot tightly with the lid.

While the meat is braising, turn it every 30 minutes. The meat should be almost tender after 2 1/2 to 3 hours. A sharp knife inserted into the center should meet with little resistance. Remove the meat from the pot. Strain the braising liquid through a fine sieve, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the aromatics.

Return the roast and the now strained thick and gorgeous gravy to the pot. Nestle the garnish vegetables around the roast, submerging them a bit in the thickened, golden gravy. Now the gravy should almost reach the top of the vegetables. Bring the gravy to a boil and them simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes. The meat should be very tender by now and give no resistance when pierced with a knife. At this point, the meat will be firm enough to slice, but if you want it falling-apart tender, cook about 30 more minutes.)

Transfer the meat and vegetables to a serving platter, leaving the gravy behind (there should be about 1 cup). Cover and keep gravy warm near the stove. Let the roast rest about 20 minutes and then slice (with the grain--this is the trick) to desired thickness.  Generously spoon gravy over the pot roast and vegetables. Serve with remaining gravy on the side.

Note: If you have any leftovers, slice a piece of meat and place in a pot with gravy. Heat over medium high until bubbling and warmed through. Place on your favorite slice of bread and enjoy!
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