Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Yankee Pot Roast

     Old Fashioned Hearty Pot Roast!
     Yankee Pot Roast is traditional classic American comfort food at its best.  Yankee Pot Roast is usually served when the weather is chilly.  Pot Roast is made by slowly braising a tough thick section of beef, like a Chuck Roast.  Chuck Roast is perfect for making pot roast.  Carrots, onions and potatoes are usually cooked in the braising liquid, so this recipe is a full meal cooked in one pot.
     A cast iron Dutch Oven is the best kind of pot for making Yankee Pot Roast.  Any deep sided braising pan or pot that a lidd fits on can be used.  The pot has to be high enough to allow the gravy to cover the meat.  The big Chuck Roast is slowly braised till it is tender, then it is usually finished by braising with the lid off, so the meat browns and the gravy reduces to a medium thin consistency.

     Yacht clubs are famous for serving old fashioned traditional American entrées.  When I worked at a yacht club for a few years, one night per week a "Good Old Days Menu" was offered.  The Good Old Days Menu featured old fashioned comfort food and classic American food.  Yankee Pot Roast was always offered and it was the top selling item.  The yacht club was one of the few places where I worked that offered Pot Roast on a menu and it was a good one made from scratch.
     American diner style restaurants seem to be the only other places that offer Pot Roast on a regular basis.  The Pot Roast at most diners is usually made with the wrong cut of beef, like bottom round or top round.  The rump section of beef has an outer fat cap, but the fat marbling in the meat is minimal, so the meat becomes very dry when braised.  Bottom round is better when it is roasted.  Roasts from the beef shoulder are best for stews and braising.

     This is not a fancy recipe by any means.  Yankee Pot Roast is rarely fancied up.  It is usually served "Plain Jane."  There are no fancy cut vegetables or extra ingredients in the gravy.  The presentation of this entrée is not fancy either.
     The art involved in cooking Yankee Pot Roast is to braise the chuck roast till it is tender enough for a guest to cut through the thick slices with only a fork at the table.  When Yankee Pot Roast is cooked just right, compliments from guests are plentiful.  Because chuck roast is a very cheap cut of beef, the portion size per serving also is plentiful and this adds to the appeal.  This is pure comfort cooking at its best!

     Yankee Pot Roast:
     This recipe yields enough pot roast and vegetables for 3 large portions!   
     Step 1:  Heat a deep sided braising pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Place a 2 pound boneless chuck roast in the pan.
     Sear the chuck roast, till is thoroughly browned on all sides.
     Step 2:  Add 1/3 cup of small chopped onion.
     Sauté the onions with the roast, till the onions are lightly caramelized.
     Step 3:  Add 3 cups of beef stock.
     Add enough water to cover the roast with 1" of extra liquid.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Heat a small sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 3 ounces of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring with a whisk, to make a roux.
     Constantly stir the roux, till it emits a hazelnut aroma and the roux is a blonde color.
     Remove the roux pot from the heat.
     Step 5:  Add just enough of the blonde roux to the broth in the braising pot, while stirring with a whisk, to thicken the beef broth to a very thin watery sauce consistency.  
     *Save any extra roux for thickening another sauce recipe.  Roux can be refrigerated for 7 days or it can be frozen.
     Step 6:  Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Cover the pot with a lid.
     Place the braising pot in a 300ºF oven.
     Braise till the beef is fully cooked and it just starts to become tender.  (About 1 1/2 to 2 hours of braising should be enough time.)
     Step 7:  Remove the lid from the pot.
     Add 3 medium size peeled whole onions to the braising sauce.
     Add 3 peeled large carrots that are cut in half.
     Add 3 celery stalks that are cut in half.
     Add 3 peeled medium size russet potatoes that are cut in half.
     Step 8:  Leave the pot uncovered.
     Return the pot to the oven.
     Braise uncovered, till the vegetables and chuck roast are tender.
     Step 9:  Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables and set them in a bowl.
     Keep the bowl warm on a stove top.
     Remove the chuck roast from the pot and place it on a pan.
     Keep it warm on a stove top.
     Step 10:  Place the pot with the braising gravy over medium/medium high heat.
     Boil and reduce the gravy, till it becomes a medium thin sauce consistency that can coat a spoon.
     Step 11:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Place the vegetables in the gravy to reheat them.
     Step 12:  Place the pot roast on a cutting board.
     Cut the pot roast into 3/8" thick slices.

     Overlap a 10 to 12 ounce portion of the sliced Yankee Pot Roast across a plate.
     Arrange a portion of each vegetable on the plate, so they look nice.
     Spoon a generous amount of the gravy over the sliced pot roast and vegetables.
     Garnish with a few dandelion leaves.  (Dandelion greens are a nice choice of down home garnish.)
     Rich, hearty and satisfying is what yankee pot roast is all about!  The chuck roast is so tender, that it can be sliced with a fork from five miles away!  
     A copious amount of braising sauce is needed to braise the chuck roast properly.  Any extra gravy can be served with biscuits as lunch the next day or saved for later use. 

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