If I left our menu choices up to Griffin, we’d eat meat all the time. All. The. Time. To him and his near 15-year old stomach, meat is the be-all to end-all. Especially beef.
We’re not huge beef consumers, not even ground beef. Mike isn’t particularly fond of red meat and as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that I’m not so much either. I’ve realized that it can be a bit stressful on the digestion, and then, of course there’s the cost. Beef has the heftiest price tag of any meat found in the market. And good beef with a healthy marbling and high quality flavor is pretty much out of our budget range, especially these days and likely for good. To me, spending that much money on a hunk of meat is insane even if it is amazingly delicious. Once a season when the weather is very nice, I will grill steak for Griffin and I because really, a steak on the grill is a thing of beauty, and for an occasional treat that makes my son’s eyes shine, I can shell out a tad more cash at the checkout.
Griffin was nearly beside himself with joy on Easter morning when he discovered this chuck roast thawing in the kitchen. I had purchased this meat with the intention of creating a new recipe from it and then, in fairly typical fashion, forgot or misplaced whatever it was I was prepared to do with it. Bonus for the boy. I agreed to turn it into Pot Roast, just for him. With a quiet, restful Sunday on our hands, a meal that required little work was just the ticket.
I’m going to break all convention here, because although there is a very vocal reverence to cooking only with a wine that you yourself would drink, I don’t necessarily agree that a poor wine is a poor choice to add to your recipe. Something quite lovely can happen to a rather crummy bottle of wine when it’s mixed in with caramelized onions and garlic cloves alongside a nice chunk of beef. The long slow heat can soften it’s harsh edges and mellow the flavor. A spoonful or two drizzled over the top of the finished meat adds a juicy compliment in your mouth. And what you don’t use simply gets tossed after serving it’s purpose. Once in a while, if a selection from the wine shop ends up a bad one for you, it can be a bonus for your meal. Everybody wins.
The method I use for Pot Roast is to cook about three sliced onions until they are nicely caramelized, stirring almost constantly over high heat to deposit a nice fond on the pan bottom. I add in about six whole garlic cloves too. Once the onions were deeply burnished, I place the seasoned meat in the super-hot pan and allowed it to sear to a deep crusty brown. About a cup of the wine is poured in to release all the good stuff on the bottom, then simmered until it’s absorbed. Dump in the remains of the entire bottle, cover the pan tight and either allow to cook slowly at the lowest flame on the stovetop, or place it in a moderate oven- 300 to 325- until the meat is tender and easily pulls apart. The timing will depend on the size of your roast. If you’re cooking on the stovetop, keep the flame very low; the liquid should bubble only slightly, not be in a rolling boil. This might make your meat a bit tough. With this method, my 2-1/2 pound roast needed barely three hours to become perfection.
Of course, the best accompaniments to a delicious, wine-soaked plate of beef are potatoes and carrots. I made smashed potatoes- not mashed, these are a bit lumpier and rustic- and the carrots were roasted to tender and sweet perfection. The best part though, of the entire meal, was watching Griffin’s face. The boy was in bovine heaven, and in the morning before school, he ate some of the leftovers for breakfast.