One of the greatest challenges we face in our technical program is the short class times. Following the county schedule, we have to make do with what we have.
Recently, we entertained a local chapter of the Red Hat Ladies with my mother as the gracious hostess and it was time to break out one of my favorite recipes (Not one that I created, but rather one that I truly enjoying cooking for many reasons). When all was said and done, I was told that they wanted the recipe so I decided to oblige.
Yankee Pot Roast, courtesy of the Culinary Institute of America where I perfected the technique for this recipe, is steeped in classical cooking techniques and traditions, and if you follow the instructions, you can’t help but to have an amazing comfort meal like none you’ve had since Granny’s day, of course assuming that your granny was a chef in Paris decades ago.
There are a few pointers that you need to remember. First, leave the dust on the Crock Pot. This is a tried and true, traditional and mean-green bad-to-the-bone pot roast like you’ve probably never had, and you will need a Dutch oven or a rondeau.
Secondly, you will need to go online and find a recipe for Sauce Espagnole. It takes a little practice, but you can make it days in advance. Thirdly, you need to be very, very patient. If you are not a slow-food junkie, then this recipe is not for you. There is a fair amount of mise en place.
Back to the Sauce Espagnole, this is a mother or grand sauce according to classical French cuisine. What makes it a Mother Sauce is the notion that from this you can add various ingredients to make hundreds of derivative sauces.
In a nutshell, this sauce is nothing more than a brown stock (you should know how to make that), tomato product and flavorings all thickened with a roux made of butter and flour.
Once everything is combined, simply simmer and skim for a couple of hours and you’re done. To reiterate, at this point you can chill and hold for up to a few days in the refrigerator until needed so you don’t need to get all of this done at the witching hour.
Served with roasted potatoes and turnips and then a puree of root vegetables cooked in this unctuous and flavorful sauce, it slowly metamorphoses into the comfort dish of all comfort dishes. It is the most pleasing pot roast I have ever eaten.
Given our short class periods, it took us three days to make the pot roast. It can be done in a day at home, and your house will smell like a fine French bistro. And once you make it all the way through, you will be shocked at the amount of cooking skills you will be assured of having. And then you get to eat your skills.
3# chuck roast, trimmed and trussed
Butter and olive oil as needed
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 c. Dry red wine
4 Cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 med. Onion, halved
1 med. Carrot, in large chunks
2 ribs celery, chunked
Chicken Stock as needed
Sauce Espagnole as needed
Fresh thyme and rosemary to taste
2 Tbsp. whole peppercorns
2-4 bay leave, depending on freshness
Heat the oil and butter until very hot in a pan that will accommodate all of the above ingredients
Liberally season the roast and sear all sides until dark brown. Don’t be timid here. We don’t want boiled meat…or at least I don’t
Remove the meat and set in a pan to catch all juices that may come out while it’s resting
Add a touch more oil and fry the garlic, onion, carrot, celery and tomato paste until darker
Deglaze the pan with the wine and add the stock and Sauce Espagnole
Add the herbs. Cover the pan and place in the oven at 300F for as long as it takes for the beef to be insanely tender
Remove the roast and let rest while you finish the sauce
Strain the sauce and discard the particulates. Place it back on the stovetop and put your trimmed root vegetables in to cook until very tender
When this is done, remove with a skimmer and puree in a blender or food processor until soft and creamy. There will be so much flavor from having been cooked in the sauce that you will have little work to do to season
Now, with all of the infused flavors of the sauce, perform a final fine strain and season to taste.
Bask in your culinary prowess and shower yourself with praise. It’s the coolest thing to make a sauce with so many layers of flavor. Classical technique = wonderful results every time
Roasted Potatoes and Turnips
4 ea. Med. Yukon potatoes, peeled and wedged
2 ea. Turnips, peeled and wedged
Butter and/or olive oil
Steam or parboil the potatoes only until tender
Remove from water and toss together all ingredients
Roast in a 450F oven until crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.