Few dishes comfort us as well as a lovingly rendered pot roast, just as Champagne tickles the tongue and heart with feelings of joy and celebration.
Like roast chicken, there’s a pot roast from every culture which eats beef. Italians have their stracotto di manzo, Germans have their sauerbraten and the French have dined on pot-au-feu since the 12th century. And much like the French coq au vin, pot roast is a tough cut of meat braised long and slow in a flavorful broth until it’s fork tender.
My mother spread happiness on our Sunday table many times with her pressure cooker pot roast with root vegetables and a smooth, savory brown gravy. Oh, how I regret that I didn’t pay attention to how she made her gravy.
Some would say that pot roast is ordinary fare suitable only for family dining. Nonsense, I say – with good presentation, a beautifully plattered pot roast dressed up with its accompanying vegetables and sauce should delight even the most discriminating diner. After all, this baby sits on a lofty pot roast plateau by virtue of including porcini mushrooms and a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir in the sauce.
Porcini and Pinot Noir Pot Roast
Local! Local! Local! Our roast came from McK Ranch in Dallas, Oregon, the dried porcini mushrooms from Misty Mountain Mushrooms in Yamhill, and the wine from Eola Hills Winery in Rickreall. Contact Nate at Rafn’s for McK products, and look for the mushrooms at Roth’s.
- 1½ cup of beef or mushroom stock
- ¾ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 3- to 4-pound boneless beef chuck roast
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 large onion, chopped coarsely
- 2 celery stalks with leaves, sliced into ½-inch pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tablespoon marjoram
- 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1¼ cup pinot noir or other dry red wine
- ¼ cup ruby Port
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons golden brown sugar
- Parsley for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300º F.
- Bring the stock to a boil, stir in the dried porcini, cover, and set aside off the heat for about 15 minutes.
- Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and chop coarsely.
- Reserve the broth and mushrooms separately.
- Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Season the roast with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until browned, about 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the roast to a plate and pour off most of the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon.
- Return the Dutch oven to medium heat and add the onion and celery.
- Season with salt and pepper and sauté until they begin to brown slightly.
- Add the garlic, marjoram and mushrooms, and sauté for about a minute.
- Using your hands, crush the tomatoes individually into the pot.
- Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the wine, Port, Worcestershire, and brown sugar, and boil for about 5 minutes.
- Add the stock, leaving behind any sediment from the mushrooms, and boil for another 3-5 minutes.
- Return the roast to the pot, cover and cook in oven for 1½ hours.
- Turn the roast over and cook for another 1½ hours.
- Remove the roast to a plate and tent to keep warm.
- Spoon off as much of the fat on the surface of the sauce as you can, and boil the remaining sauce until reduced to about 4-5 cups.
- Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer to a serving platter and spoon some of the sauce over. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.
The roasted vegetables in the photo are baby carrots, a variety of baby potatoes, onions, and quartered Brussels sprouts, tossed in olive oil and seasoned with garlic salt and Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute. Mushrooms could be a natural and wonderful addition to this collection, and they would have been if I had brought along my memory when shopping. The vegetables were roasted in a 400º F oven until tender, about 30-40 minutes.