Thursday, 22 October 2009

Beef Pot Roast with Red Wine and Tomato Gravy

With the weather still playing games with me I take any overcast day and grab on to it greedily, going through my backlog of winter recipes for things I can make. A few days before I made this I walked into my supermarket and was shocked to see them selling reasonably big cuts of meat. Well, big by Japanese standards, the 5-700g (1.1-1.5lb) beef roasts were the biggest (possibly the only?) proper roasting pieces I've seen grace my fresh meat counter shelves in the just over two years I've been here. I bought two, and vowed that the next time the weather dropped below 20C during the day I would make something with them. A few days later the skies were cloudy enough to need a cardigan to walk to school and I started searching 'beef' on foodgawker. Oh man, doing stuff like that is a good way to torture yourself.

After passing up some truly mouthwatering looking dishes, I came to this country style pot roast with red wine tomato gravy at

I had found it.

For Japan residents who may be having trouble finding bigger cuts of meat, if you have a local Brazilian store they are usually good sources for big, cheaper pieces of meat. If that's not an option for where you're living then I have linked to The Meat Guy in my sidebar, it's easy to order what you need.


1 large boneless beef chuck roast (5 1/2-6 pounds), tied
Salt and pepper
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
1 large celery rib, chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
800g (28 ounce can) crushed tomatoes
500ml (2 cups) low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


This recipe was intended for a slow cooker, but mine was a little small for everything so I used a dutch oven on my stove, at the lowest heat my gas was capable of giving me. It worked out fine (I'd say the equivalent of a slow cooker on 'high' for the sake of this recipe's timing) but I wouldn't recommend leaving the house if you do this because of the dangers of the flames going out.

I had two smaller roasts that together added up to about 900g/just under 2lb, so I halved the ingredients. This left me with a lot of sauce but I had no problem with that.

I can't stand celery, so I didn't put it in. I also forgot the parsley at the end.

My crushed tomatoes were actually two cans of chopped/diced tomatoes forced through a sieve.

Because I was using smaller joints I was tempted not to tie them up. This would have been a mistake, the meat goes spoon tender at the end, and taking it out of the pan at the end would have destroyed it if I hadn't. Go here for how to tie meat.

As the recipe itself mentions, if you're using smaller pieces of meat don't forget to reduce cooking times. I ended up simmering mine for about 3 and a half hours all told.


1) Assemble and prepare all ingredients

2) Liberally season roast with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown roast on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes (you may need a shorter time for smaller pieces, you want to seal everything in and get a nice colour, not have it go black or hard). Transfer roast to slow cooker.

3) Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to skillet, along with onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.

4) Increase heat to high. Add red wine to empty skillet, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Add pepper flakes, bay leaves and thyme. Transfer to slow cooker.

5) Set slow cooker to high, cover, and cook until tender, 6 to 7 hours. Or, cook on low for 9 to 10 hours. (Check the temperature with a meat thermometer about 2 hours before the roast is supposed to be done to prevent overcooking). As I mentioned I cooked mine for about 3 and half hours on the equivalent of high in my dutch oven. Any big/heavy saucepan would do I think, so long as it has a well fitting lid and is reasonably thick. You'll have to be really careful with how high the temperature is if you're using a thinner pan, else you'll end up with a nasty burnt layer on the bottom.

6) Transfer roast to carving board; loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Discard bay leaves. Allow liquid in pot to settle, about 5 minutes, then use wide spoon to skim fat off surface. Puree liquids and solids in batches in blender or food processor. (Or, use an immersion blender.) Stir in parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

7) Remove strings from roast and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Transfer meat to serving platter. Pour about 1 cup gravy over meat. Serve, passing more gravy separately.

NOTE ON REDUCING RECIPE: If you cut this recipe in half, be sure to reduce your slow-cooker time to about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

This was everything I'd hoped it would be. I'm toying with the idea of doing a beef order from the meat guy myself so I can make it again.

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