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Secret Pot Roast Recipe!
Jim's Melt-In-Your-Mouth Pot Roast
4-5-pound Chuck or Rump Roast
Coarse-ground salt, cracked black pepper
A few quarts of beef broth (or Consommé)
A few bay leaves
A few good-sized garlic cloves
You'll also need:
Large Thanksgiving-worthy flat-bottom roasting pan with tight-fitting lid
At least an hour of cook time per pound of roast
The heavy lifting:
• Take the roast out about an hour before you plan to put it into the oven. Cover it on all sides with the cracked black pepper and salt. And I do mean COVER it, and on ALL sides. Use more than you think you'll need; that's a lot of meat you're working with. Then, let it sit for a bit. We want it to come up to something like room temperature, if possible.
• Cut your veggies, but keep them separated for now. Bias-cut the carrots. Peel 'em. if you want, but you don't have to. Lose the roots and leaves of the celery, and cut it into pieces about half the size of your index finger. Halve the mushrooms, quarter the spuds. Cut the onion into quarters, and separate the layers. You're going for big, chunky pieces, here. Peel the garlic, too...But set it aside for now.
• Put the roasting pan on one of the burners, and get it warming up to medium-high heat. Melt an entire stick of butter in there. Maybe two if it's big. This ain't health food, pal.
• When the butter is melted and bubbling, toss in the carrots and onions. You want to sauté them until the onions are translucent, and the carrots are getting sort of caramelized. Stir frequently. When they're done, dump 'em into a mixing bowl, and set 'em aside.
• Deglaze the pan, and emulsify the fond. In English: Splash some of the cooking wine into the pan, and scrape up the brown stuff with the whisk. Stir it up, and dissolve it into the butter / wine mixture. Dump the hot liquid into the bowl with the carrot and onion. This stuff is GOLD for your flavor profile, and will continue to cook the veggies in the bowl.
• Brown the roast by putting it into the pan. Five minutes per side on the two flat sides, and the two long sides. No peeking, no moving...Just put it in the pan and let it sit and sizzle for a full five minutes each side. If it sticks when you pull it up, that's okay. Leave the brown bits in the pan where they are for now.
• Pull the roast out, and let it sit for a minute. While it's resting, once again, emulsify that fond. Wine, whisk, save it in the bowl with the carrots and onions. This is important.
• Set the oven to 275°F.
• Kill the burner. Return the carrots and onions to the pan, and make a bed of the fond-emulsified braising liquid and vegetables. Put the roast on it, equidistant from the edges of the pan, and on top of the bed you just put down.
• Dump some of the broth into the gap between the roast and pan, filling about halfway up.
• Fill the space between the roast and pan with the spuds, fungus, and celery.
• Add the herbs. Lots of oregano, a good deal of thyme, plenty of rosemary, and a few bay leaves.
• Crush the garlic with the flat edge of your knife, or a garlic press if you have one. Add as much as you want, but put in at LEAST four or five cloves' worth. Drop most of it in the meat-gap, but feel free to rub some right on top of the roast if you feel like it.
• Add some more broth. Ideally, you want to totally submerge the roast, but if you don't, at least make sure you've covered the veg.
• Cover the whole mess with the lid.
• Put it in the 275°F oven, which should have preheated by now.
And now for the hardest part - Go away for at least four to five hours...At least one hour of cooking time per pound of roast. Seriously. Don't check on it, don't touch it, don't open the oven and do NOT remove the lid. Everything's fine in there. Really.
After about two hours your entire house will start smelling like paradise. Dogs will have come from across town to gather on your lawn and salivate. Still - Leave that sucker alone until it's done. Or even longer. The longer you leave it in there, the better it's going to be.
Once it's done:
• Take it out of the oven carefully. Remove the lid. Ladle out a few cups of the au jus, and put them in a saucepan. If some of the herbs get in there, great. Replace the lid on the pan and let it sit. Get the au jus in the pan boiling over medium-high heat.
• Make a slurry with the cornstarch and COLD water in a small mixing bowl. About two cups of the water, and maybe two or three heaping tablespoons of corn starch. Dump the corn starch into the water and mix it with a fork, or the whisk you busted out earlier. Make sure it's all dissolved. No clumps, no residue on the bottom. Working with a non-Newtonian fluid ain't easy, but it's worth it.
• When the slurry is done, reduce the heat under the au jus to a low-medium simmer. SLOWLY pour the slurry into the au jus, whisking briskly, until it's all in. Now, whisk it CONSTANTLY - by which I mean DON'T STOP - until the au jus starts to thicken. If it isn't thickening, increase the heat incrementally until it does. Shouldn't take long. As soon as you can pull the whisk out and the mixture coats it - Boom. You have gravy. Remove it from the heat, or it'll burn. Put it in a bowl, or a gravy boat.
• Take the roast out of the pan with a pair of forks, and put it on a serving platter. Do this in one smooth motion, or the big, delicious bastard will fall apart on you. At this point, it should be so tender, it pretty much surrenders when you WAVE a fork at it. Once it's on the platter, shred / chunk it up with the forks. Steal a piece for yourself, you've earned it. Try not to pass out when you taste it.
• Fish the veggies out of the remaining au jus with a slotted spoon, and put them in a serving bowl. Make sure you dredge the bottom, and get 'em all out. Now is also a good time to remove the bay leaves. Nobody wants to eat those.
• Serve, and EAT. Make sure you dump your stunning gravy all over everything. When you're done eating, eat some more. Call your friends. Call your boyfriend or girlfriend. Hell, call 'em both. It's time they knew about each other, don't you think? Give them all some. Let them bask on the glory of your magnificent meatery.
This is a little arduous. It takes time. But it will also be the most delicious pot roast you will ever make, and you will do it again.
(You can also save the remaining au jus to make more gravy later, or just straight-up do shots of it. It's delicious.)