With limited access to the grocery store, I chose a recipe for a boneless chuck roast that required no more than what I already had on hand. Onions, a few herbs, a little tomato paste, and some white wine.
The recipe from Epicurious.com first appeared in the January 2005 issue of Gourmet magazine and, given its simplicity, it yielded, much to my surprise, one of the best pot roasts I’ve ever had either at home or in a restaurant.
One might consider this a retro dish, from a time before fresh herbs were widely available, and the culinary world discovered umami or developed a taste for exotic spice blends like zaatar. Here, with only onions as an aromatic and just a few pinches of herbs, the deep beefy flavors of the roast took precedence. The long three-hour braise made for meltingly tender slices of meat, while the use of white, as opposed to red, allowed the onions to shine and morph into a sweet-savory sauce.
At my husband’s suggestion, influenced by his mother’s cooking, we decided to postpone serving the roast until the next evening, allowing the meat to absorb more flavors from the braising liquid. The following day, I divided the roast in two and saved half the meat and the sauce for freezing. I transferred the portion we were reheating to a small Dutch oven and let it come to room temperature. It then went covered into a preheated 350°F oven for a little more than hour.
I served the roast accompanied by buttered truffle egg noodles that I found in the back of my cupboard which made this already spectacular roast even better.
Wine Braised Chuck Roast with Onions (from Gourmet Magazine, Hanuary 2005)
4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast
2 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds onions (4 to 6 medium), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or¼ teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or ¼ teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 ½ cups dry white wine
1 cup water
Accompaniment:½ pound egg noodles, boiled until al dente
Garnish: chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Pat beef dry and rub all over with 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
3. Heat oil in an ovenproof 5-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown beef on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer beef to a plate.
4. Add onions to pot and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden, about 10 minutes.
5. Add garlic, tomato paste, thyme, rosemary, and remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
6. Add wine and water and bring to a boil.
7. Return beef to pot, then cover tightly and braise in oven, turning once after 1 hour, until beef is very tender, 2 ½to 3 hours total.
8. Let beef stand, uncovered, in onion sauce about 30 minutes.
9. Preheat oven to 350°F and transfer beef to a cutting board and cut into ½-inch-thick slices. Season with salt and pepper and return beef to sauce. Reheat, covered, 20 minutes.
Beef can be braised, sliced, and shredded, then returned separately to sauce 5 days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat sliced beef and onion sauce in pot, covered, or an ovenproof serving dish covered with foil in a 350°F oven about 30 minutes. (As noted above, I reheated my roast the following day for a little more than hour.)