Well pot roast beef in fact, but heavenly indeed on a glum November day. The rediscovery of the casserole is the latest news on the food front and a pot roast is just one step further along.
I love this type of cooking as it combines so many of my favourite things: a delicious tasty meal, minimum last minute preparation and a dish that is extremely forgiving.
I have chosen beef for this recipe but the technique is the same whether you pick chicken, venison or pork. A pot roast shoulder of lamb would work just fine but I might cook that rather fatty meat open over the veg as in Lamb Boulanger to allow the skin to crisp.
The basics are a decent sized piece of meat about 2 kilos and whatever vegetables you have in the larder with a definite lean towards roots. You will need an onion or two, leeks work well especially with chicken, and some seasoning herbs. For liquid you can chose stock, or wine but I often use water, not wanting to add too many flavours to the dish.
I have a beautiful collection of cast iron casserole/cocotte dishes collected over many years and half the pleasure to me of making pot roast is being about to use one of these lovelies.
The method is simple and can be followed for which ever meat you chose, the economy is perfect, less costly joints faring best here, and any leftovers will make gorgeous hearty soups.
Beef Pot Roast
2kg joint of silverside, topside or leanish brisket
110gm smoked streaky bacon
a couple of tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks cleaned and sliced
4 carrots peeled and cut into chunks
4 small parsnips peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 ribs of celery sliced
4 fat cloves of garlic peeled and bashed a bit
I pint stock, water or red wine
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
A couple of sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf or two
A couple of handfuls of small potatoes and some black olives these are optional but tasty if you have them in the fridge, Sun blushed tomatoes would work too.
Begin by choosing a lidded casserole into which all your ingredients will fit.
Place this over a moderate heat and cook the bacon till the fat runs and the bacon browns. Remove this to a plate then adding the oil brown the beef ( chicken, venison etc) on all sides. This does not seal the meat but it does caramelize the sugars and deepens the flavours of the final dish.
Take the meat out and add the veg. Give this all a stir and cook for about 4-5 minutes until things start to look a little relaxed.
Put the meat and bacon back then add the stock, season and tuck in the herbs.
Put on the lid and bring to a simmer.
Pop the dish in the oven and cook at 150 (140 fan) gas mk 2 for about 3 hours. It will sit in the oven happily for 4 hours.
I like to check the stock level a couple of times during cooking, it should come no more than half way up the meat.
About 40 minutes before serving add the potatoes and olives if you’re using them.
Serve with a good green cabbage.
Cook often until spring!!