There's something about the snow falling and the kids being home from school that makes me feel like I should slap on an apron and get baking...or roasting or braising or simmering or whatever has the oven going good and hot and causes scrumptious smells to waft through the house. It's just what I do. A compulsion if you will.
And nothing says yes, it's cold outside but we are warm and snuggly inside more than pot roast. Pot roast, a quintessentially all American meal. I grew up eating it. My grandfather used to save the ends of the meat for me because they were my favorite. And of course, being the cook, I now claim them for myself. I'm selfish like that. And caramelized bits of meat have long been my downfall. Well, those and gluttonous amounts of pasta.
And nothing is as easy to make and makes the people you love feel loved than a large piece of braised beef. At least in my world that's how I show them I love them. Kind of twisted if you think about it.
~Coffee Braised Pot Roast
1 3-4 pound beef chuck roast, generously salted and peppered on all sides
2 TBS olive oil
2-3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 pkg baby portabella mushrooms, sliced thinly
6 cloves chopped garlic
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup coffee, leftover from the morning is fine
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS cornstarch mixed with 2 TBS cold water
Heat oven to 300 degrees
In a dutch oven or medium soup pot (I used a 7qt Le Creuset) heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the beef and brown on all sides. Don't be afraid to get it good and caramelized, if your meat is sticking when you try to turn it, let it cook a couple more minutes.
When the meat is browned on all sides, remove it to a platter.
Add the onions to the pan and keeping the heat on med-high, use tongs to toss them around. When they get light golden, add the garlic and thyme and cook a 2-3 more minutes.
Add the coffee and vinegar and scrape up the browned bits for a minute or so.
Add the beef to the pot and top with the thinly sliced mushrooms.
Cover and transfer the pot to the oven.
Braise the beef for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, checking it half way through. At the half way point I flip the meat and spoon some of the liquid over it.
The meat is ready when it's fork tender, transfer it to a cutting board and let it rest while you move the pot back to the stove top. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and add the cornstarch and water mixture. Whisk rapidly to avoid lumps.
Slice the meat and you can add it back to the top or serve it topped with the gravy. We eat ours with buttered egg noodles, it's also delicious over mashed potatoes, polenta or rice.