Ticino-Style Pot Roast Braised with Merlot and Fresh Herbs
From Annie and Margrit, Recipes and Stories from the Robert Mondavi Kitchen
2 TBSP Unsalted Butter
2 lbs Boneless Beef Chuck Roast
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Carrot, peeled and chopped
1/4 Celery Root, peeled and chopped
1 Leek, including light green part, sliced
2 Whole Cloves
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp fresh Rosemary Leaves
1/4 tsp fresh Thyme Leaves
1/2 tsp fresh Basil, chopped
1 cup Beef Stock
1 cup Merlot (I used 14 Hands Merlot)
In a large stew pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the meat and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Without removing the meat, add the carrot, celery root, leek and cloves and stir to mix. Decrease the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, basil, stock and wine , stir to mix, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Remove from the heat and let rest, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside in a warm place. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. discarding the solids. Let sit for a few minutes to allow the fat to rise to the top, then skim. Return the skimmed liquid to the pot and cook over high heat until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. To serve, cut the meat into 1/4-inch thick slices and arrange on a serving platter. Pour the reduced liquid over the meat and serve right away.
This is a recipe we featured in one of our publications many, many years ago (at least ten years ago). It sounded good so I decided to make it. Since then, it’s been a constant favorite in our house and we never get tired of it. It’s simply that good. It’s quick and simple and will just cook quietly on the stove while you prep your sides and remainder of dinner. To make it quicker, I get all my ingredients ready to go.
First, I cut up and washed all the vegetables and herbs. The celery root* peels very easily with a peeler. I find the best way to peel and chop garlic is to crush the garlic clove and for the most part, the skin peels right off. I also discovered a great way to cut tomatoes. Simply use a small pairing knife and cut around the core. Angle the knife towards the center of the tomato as you cut around the core and once you complete the circle, the core pops right out and you’re left with an entire tomato with minimal waste.
*From Wikipedia: Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum), also called turnip-rooted celery, celery root, or knob celery, is a variety of celery cultivated for its edible stem or hypocotyl, and shoots. Despite its name, it is not a close relative of the turnip. Celeriac is like a root vegetable except it has a bulbous hypocotyl with many small roots attached.
Next, it’s time to melt the butter in the pot and put the roast in. Salt and pepper the roast, sear it for about 3 to 5 minutes, turn it over, salt and pepper the second side and sear it for about 3 to 5 minutes. Leave the roast in the pan and add the carrots, celery root, leek and cloves. Decrease the heat to medium and let the vegetables cook down just a bit, like the recipe says 2 minutes is good. You’re not cooking the vegetables, just wilting them. Add the garlic, tomatoes, fresh herbs, beef stock and wine. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to medium low, I went low, for an hour and a half.
Hint: Since you’re only using a minimal amount of fresh herbs, the Big Y produce manager told me to put the left over thyme and rosemary in a ziploc bag and freeze them for later use. It’s not recommended to freeze basil in ziplock bags so I just saved the basil for the next day and used it in another recipe.
After an hour and a half, I checked the temperature of the roast and it was at about 170/180 degrees. According to the thermometer, it was well done which is the way I like it. Remove the meat from the liquid and set aside.
To make the “gravy”, skim as much fat off the top as possible. I place paper towels on the top and let it absorb. It absorbs quite fast so be prepared to move quickly. I repeat this process a few times. You’ll never remove all the fat from the liquid. Once your satisfied by what’s remaining, pour the liquid through a sieve. Now you’re left with liquid gold. Return the liquid to your pot and cook it for another 15 minutes or so. It will cook down a bit and thicken ever so slightly. It won’t have the consistency of gravy. It mostly remains liquid. It is indeed one of the most flavorful “gravies” I’ve ever tasted. It also works well on mashed potatoes.