Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pot Roast

I make pot roast the same way my mother always did when I was growing up, and hanging out in the kitchen with her--braised in a heavy pot, on the stovetop. Her secret ingredient is coffee, which helps tenderize the meat, and make a dark, rich pan sauce. I prefer using a sirloin tip roast, but rump roast works, as well as chuck. Look for sales!

Mama's Pot Roast with Vegetables
1 approximately 4 pound roast
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. paprika
2 large onions, cut into chunks
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
1 cup very strong coffee
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled if desired, cut into large chunks
3 carrots, peeled, cut into large pieces
salt and pepper to taste
Mix flour, salt, pepper, and paprika together on a plate. Dredge the roast very well on all sides. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy pan, with a tight fitting lid, over medium-high heat. When very hot and almost smoking, carefully lower the roast into the pan. Be prepared for spattering. Cover the pan and sear the meat for several minutes, until dark brown, on both sides. Check the pan often, and be patient, this will probably take about 30 minutes. This process seals in the beef juices, and the crust formed adds tremendous depth of flavor. If you try to turn the meat too soon, it will be stuck to the pan. When it is completely seared, it will release easily.
Remove pan from heat and let it cool for a minute or two, before adding a cup of very strong coffee. Add onions, celery, and bay leaf. Add enough water to come about half way up the side of the meat, and bring to a steady simmer. Cover and cook for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
When the meat is tender, remove to a platter and cover with foil, to rest. Meanwhile, add the carrots and potatoes to the simmering liquid, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cook until tender, about 15 minutes, depending on size. Slice the roast and arrange the vegetables around it, on the platter. Serve the pan juice in a gravy boat.

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