My wife and I sat down the other night with a few cookbooks to suss out some new “ski house friendly” recipes to add to our normal seasonal rotation. These are dishes that are either easily and quickly prepared at the end of a long ski day, can be made without much fuss by tossing a bunch of stuff in a slow-cooker before hitting the slopes in the morning, or can be made at home in advance and easily transported to the mountain.
This “Italian Pot Roast” immediately caught our eye, and was SO GOOD, that it easily earned a spot in this ski season’s meal plan. We found the recipe in a great cookbook called The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World by Lynn Alley, in fact, it is the dish that graces the cover of the book. Lynn shows the pot roast served over polenta, which was my intention too, but when I went to the pantry to reach for some, I found much to my horror, that we were out! Luckily, I had some wheatberries there, and some leftover soffritto in the fridge that combined to make a tasty bed over which to serve this delicious roast.
I have to say that up until this point in my life, I haven’t been a big fan of pot roast. To me, they’ve always seemed like frail and tasteless 3rd cousins to rich and flavorful meat braises like beef bourguignon, or short ribs. I’ve always liked the texture of a well made one, but found their taste bland and uninteresting. This dish on the other hand, is anything but boring. The clove, allspice and cinnamon add a depth of flavor in a very nuanced way, making this a most addictive dish. Fabulous pulled hot from the oven, and even better reheated the next day.
For those of you that don’t own a slow cooker, don’t despair. Ours is actually at our ski place, so when I decided to make this dish I did a little research to determine what oven temperature would equate to modern day slow cooker temps. It turns out that most slow cookers today cook at 200℉ for their LOW setting, and 300℉ for HIGH. Given that, I cooked this dish in a Le Creuset dutch oven for 8 hours at 200℉, and it was perfect!
Boris joined me in the kitchen early last Sunday to help me prep the vegetables and grind the spices. While he managed these tasks, I seasoned and browned the meat, ran to the cellar for a bottle of wine, and rummaged through the pantry for the tomatoes. A few brief moments of preparing our mise, then a low and slow 8 hours of cooking….could anything be easier?
Enjoy! – Steve
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 allspice berries
- 6 black peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 1/2 pounds beef pot roast, trimmed of excess fat
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup hearty red wine
- 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Combine the cinnamon, cloves, allspice and peppercorns in a mortar or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the meat and cook, turning, for 10-15 minutes, until browned on all sides. Using tongs, transfer meat to slow cooker.
- Add the onion to the sauté pan and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic, celery and carrots and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the spice mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the red wine and cook for about 10 minutes, until reduced by about one-third. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, until the meat if flaky and fork tender. Transfer to a warmed serving dish and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.
- To cook wheat berries: Combine 2 cups wheat berries, 6 cups water, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy (and a few of the berries split open), about an hour or so. The berries will stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they're done is to taste a few. Drain and set aside. I tossed ours with a few spoonfuls of soffritto that we had in the fridge, if your not as fortunate, some sauteed shallots, or onion and garlic would be a nice addition to the wheatberries.