I don’t really have a personal story to tie into this blog post. Growing up, we didn’t have the idyllic Sunday dinner, but the food trend of the last couple of years calling for a return to comfort foods during troubled economic times made me crave having a homey, Sunday evening meal of my own.
I say this as a heads-up that this was a total experimentation at making a pot roast and so could use a bit of tweaking. In this case, I started by making a spice rub for a 2 lb piece of top round roast. After generously coating both sides of the roast with the rub, I seared it in the bottom of a Dutch oven pot. After a good crust formed on both sides of the roast, leaving behind a decent frond on the bottom of the pot, I removed the roast and tossed in large chunks of onion and cooked them until they had browned a bit. A good splash of brandy was then used to deglaze the pot and OMG– the smell was amazing! I tossed the roast back into the pot along with heaps of carrots, celery, and fennel, a large can of diced tomatoes, and enough beef stock to cover the whole shebang. I added in some bay leaves and fresh thyme and then put the cover on and tried to forget about it while it simmered away for the next 2.5 hours.
And there in lies the problem. This guy could have done with maybe another hour to hour and a half of cooking. I don’t think I gave it enough time for the fibers in the meat to break down again after its initial toughening up. This wasn’t bad mind you– we had delicious slices of beef bathed in a slightly spicy but sweet tomato sauce, but it wasn’t the fork tender, fall apart in shreds roast that sits in my ideal. No complaints though, especially since slices of the roast sat upon a pillowy pile, of creamy mashed potatoes. Sundays are pretty lazy around here, and this doesn’t change that atmosphere any.
- olive oil
- 2 lb top round roast
- 1 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 3 large carrots, chopped into 1 inch long, 1/2 inch thick segments
- 2 large celery stalks, chopped into 1 inch long segments
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups beef stock
- 3-4 stalks fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in the bottom of a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Mix together the steak seasoning, paprika, oregano, and cinnamon in a small bowl then liberally douse both sides of your roast with the spice mix. Place the roast in the hot oil and let it rest undisturbed for about 5 minutes before flipping over and searing the other side for another 5 minutes, or as long as it takes to get a good brown crust. Remove the roast to a plate and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and add more olive oil if needed. Toss in the onion and saute for about 5-7 minutes or until the onions are shiny and golden. Add the brandy and using a wooden spoon, scrape at the bottom of the pot to loosen any bits of frond. Add the roast back to the pot and pour in the carrots and celery. Pour in the tomatoes with their juices and add the stock. If necessary, add some water in order to submerge the roast. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium low so that it simmers while covered. Go watch a movie, read a book, or whatever you want to do for the next 3.5 to 4 hours.
Remove the roast to a cutting board and let the tomato sauce continue to simmer. Slice the roast and serve on top of mashed potatoes or buttered noodles with a ladle or two of the tomato sauce.