“What I love about cooking is that after a hard day, there is something comforting about the fact that if you melt butter and add flour and then hot stock, it will get thick! It’s a sure thing! It’s a sure thing in a world where nothing is sure; it has a mathematical certainty in a world where those of us who long for some kind of certainty are forced to settle for crossword puzzles.” — Nora Ephron
As I write this, I’m looking out the window watching the sleet come down, which I hear will soon be turning to snow. I have two thoughts. One: I hate snow. Two: Comfort food.
There’s not much I can do about the first one; the snow is coming whether I want it to or not. But when it comes to the second, well, the comfort food world is my oyster. I don’t have a favorite comfort food … chicken and dumplings, shepherds’ pie, pork and green chili stew, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese … seriously, who can choose?
Today I’m offering up a recipe for another favorite comfort food: the almighty pot roast. This is actually my brother’s favorite pot roast recipe, which he probably wouldn’t have stumbled upon had he not been watching Giada De Laurentiis on the Food Network (believe me, he wasn’t watching to see what she was cooking, if you know what I mean).
But, regardless of how he came by the recipe, I’m glad he did. It’s beefy, it’s tasty, it’s comforting.
Stracoto with Porcini Mushrooms
1 (4-pound) boneless beef chuck roast
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 3/4 cups canned beef broth
1/2-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, plus extra for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Pat the beef dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy 6-quart roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total cooking time. Transfer the beef to a bowl.
3. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan, add the onions and saute until tender, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the wine and boil 1 minute. Stir in the broth and mushrooms.
4. Return the beef to the pan. Bring the liquids to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise until the beef is fork-tender, turning the beef over halfway through cooking, about 3 hours. Transfer the beef to a cutting board. Tent the beef with foil and let stand 15 minutes.
5. Spoon any excess fat off the top of the pan juices. Transfer the pan juices and vegetables to a blender and puree until smooth. Combine the sauce and rosemary sprig in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.
6. Cut the beef across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the sliced beef on a platter and garnish with rosemary. Spoon the sauce over and serve.
Obviously, it’s not the fastest recipe in the world, but to me, comfort food shouldn’t be … the act of cooking is just as comforting too.
“Go forth, make pot roast, and comfort those around you.” — Me