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Enjoy hearty pot roast on cold, winter day

By Paul Suplee,

Thank goodness it is so chilly outside. I can’t imagine what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in Florida or Costa Rica, although I do want to try it one of these years. Who knows? It might be fun after all.

With the temperatures dropping (for the sake of this article, please disregard Maryland’s bi-polar weather patterns of hot-cold-hot-cold for the time being), it thus becomes the perfect time for heartier meals. And as this time of year often coincides with school, kids and the holidays, who wouldn’t want to make a simple, one-pot meal?

There are plenty of meals like this, but pot roast is one of my absolute favorites. With its stick-to-your-ribs body and unctuous nature, it satiates the most primal of hungers during the winter months. With the addition of demi-glace, a specialty ingredient that you should mass-produce and freeze in little bags for late use, this dish is maddeningly delicious.

As for the demi-glace, do some research. There are plenty of recipes out there, but I will say that cooking it longer will yield a better product. As I create my original beef or veal stock, from which demi is derived, I let it go all night on a low simmer, topping off with water if it evaporates too much. There is collagen in them thar bones, and the longer you go, the more you will leech out. Overnight works best.

From this stock comes the majestic Sauce Espagnole, which then gets transformed into your demi-glace. On occasion, I will make a large batch of this and then freeze it in vacuum bags to be used later. After vacuum-packing, you can lay them flat and freeze them, and they are good for months on end. And once you get in the habit of doing this, it will be much less cumbersome than it seems.

As for the beef to use in a pot roast, chuck is the all-time victor. There is tremendous flavor in the chuck, and notwithstanding the Teres Major, or Chuck Tender, it is a tough cut of meat that benefits greatly from long cooking times. Thus, it becomes the champion of the slow cooker.

You can see that this will be a rich dish. It is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not to be taken in a thermos to the beach on a hot August day. I laugh a little thinking about cracking that thermos open as sand blows in my face, sweat running down my neck. No, let’s save this one for the frosty months.

Although now I wonder if pot roast is a thing in Florida. That might very well make my decision as to whether I retire there. I think I need to make a phone call.

Pot Roast

serves up to 6

3# high-quality Chuck roast

Salt & Pepper, to taste

2 Tbsp. Whole butter

1 Tbsp. EV Olive oil

3 ea. Medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

3 ea. Stalks celery, whole (to be removed)

3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely minced

1 ea. Medium white onion, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 c. Dry red wine

6 ea. Red potatoes, halved

1 c. Beef broth

2 c. Beef demi-glace

2” Fresh rosemary

2 Fresh thyme sprigs

1. Set up a slow-cooker if you do not want to mess with a Dutch oven or covered pot in the oven. Either way is suitable, and while you might notice a difference in cooking this traditionally, I am going to go with the slow cooker as I can set and forget.

2. On the stovetop, heat a fry or sauté pan and add the butter and olive oil, melting the butter and waiting for the foaming to subside.

3. Season the chuck with salt and pepper, and carefully place it in the pan and sear on all sides. Make sure that you have a nice crust and some great color on the roast. This will determine the level of flavor in your finished dish. Just make sure that you are not burning it.

4. With all sides seared, place the roast in the slow cooker and replace the pan on the burner to heat it up again. Add the carrots, celery\, garlic and onion and cook until you have some color on those as well.

5. At this point, you will have a respectable fond in the pan (all of that stuff that is stuck to the bottom). With the pan hot again, add the wine to deglaze the pan and scrape all of those flavors out.

6. When the wine is reduced by half, add the broth and mix well.

7. Scrape everything into the slow cooker onto the roast and add the remaining ingredients.

8. Cover and cook on high for about 3 hours. Of course, this will change depending on the size of the roast, so give yourself plenty of time.

9. When finished, remove the celery stalks, rosemary stalks and thyme and discard.

10. Remove the roast and pick the fat off, discarding that. If you want to put in the extra work, you can strain the sauce to make it extra-smooth. That is completely optional.

11. Your one-pot meal is now done and ready to serve, barring any seasoning that you would like to do at this point to get it right where you want it.

—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College and owner
of  boxcar40 and boxcar on main.
Visit him at;