We all need our favorite comfort foods now and then, and this stormy January is a perfect example. A thick soup, a slow-cooked stew, or a gooey grilled cheese sandwich can sooth the cold inconvenience of power outages, downed trees and floods.
A pot roast is a good response to that feeling of “the sky is falling, and I want my mommy” that can take over even the most resilient among us when the outages and rising waters continue.
With a gas stove, you are usually okay during the storms, as it is rare to have a gas line impacted by a storm. But it does happen, and if you find yourself without gas but with electricity, it may be time to dig out your slow cooker.
If your stove is fueled by electricity, things can be tricky when the power is out. If you live where outages are frequent, you might keep a portable propane-fueled burner on hand so that you can at least make coffee and tea and, perhaps, scrambled eggs.
The worst of the season’s storms may be behind us, but spring is still a ways off and our chilly nights call for comfort foods.
This is a stove-top version of classic pot roast and the most important element is to cook the meat long enough, so that it is as tender as possible. The pan juices, when reduced a bit, make a delicious gravy that has the added advantage, for many, of being free of gluten.
Red Wine Pot Roast
Serves 4 to 8
1 chuck roast, about 3 pounds
— Kosher salt
— Black pepper in a mill
1 tablespoon lard or olive oil
1 yellow onion, cut into small dice
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
1 celery stalk, cut into small dice
3 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
2 cups full-flavored dry red wine
1 tablespoon butter, optional
— Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, egg noodles, or steamed rice.
Set the meat on a clean work surface and season it all over with salt and pepper.
Set a large deep sauté pan over high heat, add the lard or olive oil, and, when the pan is very hot, add the meat. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, until one side is nicely browned. Turn the meat over and brown on the other side. You can, if you like, stand the meat on end and sear the sides, as well. Set the browned meat on a plate.
Decrease the heat to medium, add the onions and sauté until they begin to soften, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook about 10 minutes more. Season with salt, add the garlic and bay leaves and return the meat to the pan.
Add the wine and 2 cups of water. When the water boils, reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer very gently for about 3 hours, until the meat is fork tender.
Transfer the meat to a plate or wide bowl, return the pan to the heat, increase the heat to high, and reduce the liquid by about one-third to one-half. Taste, correct for salt and pepper, and swirl in the butter, if using.
For a smooth sauce, puree with an immersion blender before adding the butter.
Cut the meat into slices or chunks, pour the sauce over it, and enjoy right away, with potatoes or rice alongside.