Almost exactly five years ago today, I lived in Naperville, Illinois, dated a boy from Nashville and had a little two-year-old blog where I talked about a grass-fed pot roast. I had made the recipe a total of four times in some of the last four weeks of 2010, apparently, each time following the exact same, hour-by-hour, almost superstitious method of low and slow cooking in red wine with mushrooms, onions, celery and garlic. You could call it a rain dance or Magic 8 Ball kind of recipe, in that you start the pot at one temperature, add mushrooms an hour later, raise the temperature an hour after that and then lower the temperature back to its original setting for the final 60 minutes, crossing your fingers and throwing salt over your shoulder, okay, just kidding about those last parts, but really where did I come up with this set of instructions! I read the original post like I am opening a time capsule buried in the backyard, remembering the me of back then even as I sit here and keep changing while the Internet keeps changing and blogs keep changing and did you know Rocco is sitting up on his own sometimes now! But, odd method or not, this recipe is still, five years, three addresses, a marriage, a book and a baby later, one we trust. Tim says it’s the recipe that made him like pot roast. That seems like kind of a big thing. And what with it being December and all, knowing Christmas is just around the corner, thinking all the time how much I want to make the time to cook something special where Tim and I sit across from each other while the baby bounces in the living room, I’m bringing the voodoo pot roast back. You’ll need about two (or a little less than that) pounds of grass-fed chuck roast (maybe $15), the cheapest bottle of Syrah wine you can find (maybe $11 if you go to the place by Kroger around here) and little things like olive oil and onions and celery and mushrooms and herbs you probably already having sitting in your spice drawer. For a hearty, wintery, stick-to-your-ribs kind of comfort meal that spans the years, give this one a go.
Red Wine Pot Roast with Mushrooms and Onions
Makes about four servings
I don’t remember what inspired or fueled the decisions I originally made with this recipe, but it’s possible a friend or the farmer I bought my meat from had told me low and slow is always the best way to go with grass-fed meat. Because grass-fed cows are eating more, well, grass, they tend to be leaner than their grain-fed counterparts, and they do best with low-temperature, long cooking times. This red wine pot roast takes advantage of that fact and slow-cooks the chuck roast until it’s fork-tender and infused with the flavor of wine, mushrooms onions.
1 1/2 to 2 pounds grass-fed chuck roast
Salt and black pepper
About a tablespoon of olive oil
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 1/2 white or yellow onions, diced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
Dashes of dried rosemary and thyme
1/2 cup red wine, preferably a cheap Syrah (Trader Joe’s makes a good one)
A handful or up to a dozen white mushrooms, chopped or sliced
Preheat the oven to 225F degrees. Open up the chuck roast package and, either leaving it in the wrapping or setting it on a plate, generously salt and pepper the meat.
Set a 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart oven-safe pot on the stove (a Le Creuset works well) and warm the olive oil over medium heat until hot. Place the roast in the pot and sear each side well before moving to another side, working around the roast until the entire exterior is browned. Remove roast from heat.
Add the celery, onion and garlic to the pot, pushing it all underneath the roast (tongs make these an easier job). Add hefty dashes of rosemary and thyme. Pour wine on top. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Bake for one hour.
After one hour: add mushrooms.
After another hour: raise heat to 325F.
After one more hour: lower heat to 225F again and cook a fourth hour, or until fork tender.
Serve red wine pot roast alongside roasted vegetables, perhaps potatoes and carrots, and a crusty bread.