You’ll notice that I said “gravy”–this is too much of a comfort food to use “sauce” because what you’re getting is plain, down-home gravy that needs bread or potatoes to complement it.
After I got my Christmas present (See The Petit Brasier) I had to give it an immediate test run. What better to test than a favorite braised dish: pot roast. This was nothing fancy at all. You’ll note that I’m not even saying it had a sauce–I really did mean good, old-fashioned, down-home, satisfying brown gravy, lots of onions, and good tender beef.
Even though I say I dislike leftovers, there are some exceptions and pot roast is one of the exceptions. Sometimes I get the great big chuck roast and make a lot of it and put it in the freezer in single-serving packages, right with the chili, the stock, and some soups so that I can have an “instant” meal–the microwave is great for defrosting and individual portion. I don’t always want to have to pack and freeze leftovers, so with the small braiser, and a cooperative butcher or meat department at the supermarket, I can make a small pot roast that’s good for two, or maybe three meals since there are some very easy ways to kind of spiff it up for the reruns.
This is really not a recipe–it’s a happening–quantities are approximate as the amount of oil you need will vary with the size of you pan, the amount of mushrooms and onions you are going to sauté–just use what you need. (Improvise! Wing it! Just do it–it will work.)
- 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 pound piece of chuck roast
- 4 or 5 small onions (or 3 medium to large ones) sliced moderately thinly
- 2 teaspoons flour, plus flour for dredging the beef
- about 3 tablespoons olive oil (divided as needed for sautéing mushrooms and onions.
- 8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (more if you really like mushrooms)
- 1 to 1-1/2 cups of water or stock
- salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste
- about 8-10 medium garlic cloves.
- Pat the pot roast dry with paper towels and dredge in a flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Let it stand while you cook the onions and mushrooms.
- Slice the mushrooms and sauté in a little of the olive oil until they release their liquid and brown. When brown and liquid has evaporated, remove to a bowl.
- Add a bit more olive oil, and sauté the sliced onions until they start to brown and caramelize. When partly browned, remove to a bowl with the mushrooms.
- Add the additional olive oil, as needed, and brown the beef well on both sides. Put it to the side for final assembly.
- Take the rest of the olive oil, and the 2 teaspoons of flour, and brown the flour in the oil until it turns a nice golden brown and smells toasty. Turn the heat down, add the stock or water to the browned flour.
- Add the sautéd onions and mushrooms, and return the browned roast to the pan, with the onion/mushroom mixture around the sides, sprinkle the garlic cloves over the top.
- Bring to a simmer on the stove top, cover and place in a 295-300 ° F oven and cook until fork tender–about 2-3 hours (unattended). Check periodically to see if you need to add more liquid. You need just enough to make nice thick gravy, and the onions are going to cook down to help thicken the gravy.
For that first meal, all you really need is a salad, maybe a baked potato….or some noodles.For the second serving, stir a tiny dollop of sour cream into the portion of brown gravy for this serving to add some tang and be a bit “stroganoff-ish”, add some steam-sautéd (See Cooking Vegetables Quickly) carrots, or spinach as a side. What about the third? As you reheat, add some tomato paste, or some tomato sauce to the last bit for a different taste.
It’s pure unadulterated comfort food. Even if it’s not a single serving, it’s an appropriate quantity for small-time cooking, but it sure has big-time taste. It’s great what having the right size pan does for cooking for one.
A son goût!