to keep our strength up for the emotional roller coaster that is Sunday afternoon. (Oh, who are we kidding. The emotional Bears roller coaster at MY house runs all year long.) This past weekend, after a 3:15 game, I knew I was going to have 12 hungry, drunk people to fill up fast. So during the game, I popped in my fail safe homestyle meal, let it cook all afternoon, and it was a huge hit.
That or everyone was so drunk I could have fed them catfood and they'd have been happy. But whatever. Ask Erin, she ate it.
The recipe's originally from Chow.com, by Roy Finamore. I've made it a dozen times, and it always turns out great.
Pot Roast with Porcini Mushrooms and Beer
4 pound chuck roast (or smaller if you want more sauce, less meat.)
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil (yeah, right. i use much more)
1 1/2 pound onions, thinly sliced (who buys "pounds of onions"? Get 4 big ones.)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (12-ounce) bottle of beer (a belgian ale is good here)
1/2 cup water
1 bouillon cube
1 ounce (1 heaped cup) dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons Dijon (which i usually forget to put in)
If you can plan ahead, season the beef with salt and pepper the night before you make this, covering it loosely and refrigerating it. Otherwise, try to season it at least an hour ahead and just leave it on the counter.
Heat the oven to 300°F.
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy ovenproof skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the beef well, until it’s crusty on all sides. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Add the onions, thyme, and bay leaf to the pan, along with a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are wilty and about half the size they were. Use the onion juice/liquid to scrape up any browned bit from the beef, which apparently you get if you cook properly with a porcelain or cast iron pot. I don't, i use a renegade wok-like pan that's non-stick, but whatever.
Pour in the beer and water, and smoosh in the bouillon cube. Add a little more pepper. Rinse the mushrooms under hot water, chop them, (which is hard, cause they're tough at this point and my knife is dull as hell, so i usually use the kitchen shears) and add them to the pot. You don't need to soak them back to life, the beer and roast will take care of that.
Bring the sauce to a boil.
Nestle (that's the word from the original recipe, it cracks me up so much I can't not use it) the beef in the sauce, cover the pan, and slide it into the oven. Roast for 1 hour. Turn the meat over, cover the pan again, and roast for another hour, until a fork goes in easy and the fat is melty looking.
At this point, you can turn the oven way down to wait for the game to end and the drunk people to stop violently high-fiving, if you're at my house for a bears game, or for my sister to wake up, if you're at my house for a holiday. If you're at neither, proceed logically.
Put the beef on a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let it rest. You can decant the fat now if you want by tilting the pan and letting it sit for a few minutes, then spooning off the fat, but I just mix it in. There's not that much of it unless you're using a REALLY fatty roast.
If you want the sauce a bit thicker, (you do) put the pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes, and stir a few times. When you’ve got the consistency you want, turn off the heat.
Stir the mustard into the sauce. (Or forget to.) Taste for salt and pepper.
"Slice the beef and arrange the slices on a platter. Nap with some of the sauce. Serve with the rest of the sauce on the side."
You KNOW that's from the recipe. The funny thing is, I actually copied that down into my recipe notebook! In reality, I make a big lake of mashed potatoes on everyone's plate, plop the meat on top, and gravy it all up. Yum.