There are certain dishes that call out to us. You might want to recreate that favorite cookie from your childhood, or a dish that a neighbor offered you when you visited, perhaps it’s something that you associate with a grandparent or even a close friend. My mother used to make gedempfte fleish, braised beef of some kind, and although I have no recollection of how it was prepared, what it tasted like, or even the smell, I have wanted to duplicate that pot roast for years. I finally decided to try it over Rosh Hashana.
This humble piece of meat, held together by white butcher twine, is cooked on low heat for hours, slowly coaxed into a dish worth serving. Once released from the string, the meat just falls apart on the plate, landing in every direction, completely unlike brisket which is thinly sliced and carefully arranged on an elegant platter. Pot Roast is peasant food at its best. I have now made it twice and on both occasions it elicited a response that was perfectly suited to this earthy dish. After dinner, when the roast itself was finished, “the kids” stood over the pan filled with the braising liquid, mopping it up with pieces of Challah. Ignoring their pressed shirts and silk blouses, they risked spills and stains. What more is there to say of the lowly pot roast other than to tell you it is my newly found treasure based on a vague and distant memory.
Simple Pot Roast
1 4 or 5 lb. chuck roast, tied.
1 bottle of good red wine, like a Burgundy
2 onions, cut in half
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks celery, cut
2 carrots, cut
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 Tb oil
3 Tb flour
Put roast in a large pot and add wine. Make sure meat is covered with liquid, and if not, add some beef broth. Add vegetables, bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper to the pot. Allow beef to marinate overnight, turning meat every few hours. Next day, remove beef from marinade and dry with paper towels. Roll beef in a shallow plate of flour, shaking off excess. Place oil in cast iron pan and sear meat on all sides till crusty and dark brown. Return seared roast to pot filled with marinade, cover pot, and allow to a simmer over low heat for one hour. Then put pot in a preheated 275 degree oven and cook roast for about three hours or till meat is very tender. Remove string, slice think, and serve roast and some gravy over mashed potatoes or even on top of a stack of golden Latkes. Serves 6-8