Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Beef Pot-Roast with Horseradish Sauce

A good beef pot-roast is one of winters' pleasures and a classic comfort food. One of the things that makes it a pleasure is that it's so quick to assemble, and then it keeps the house warm while it cooks! It can be made in the oven, or simmered on top of the stove. They main thing is long, slow, moist cooking.

The horseradish sauce is a Russian touch. I think it adds a lot to the dish. Use a good sour cream and good horseradish - I think the best horseradish is found in refrigerated section, and doesn't contain preservatives.

There are a number of cuts of beef that can be used for pot roast. Blade roast, chuck roast, rump roast, or cross rib roasts are the classic cuts for pot roast. These are usually cheaper cuts, and can be tough if not cooked with slow, moist heat. However, any roast can be used for a pot roast; the finer more tender cuts make fabulous, tender pot roasts. Most people just think they should be reserved for regular roasting, but it doesn't have to be that way.

I cooked mine in a Romertopf*, but any heavy covered casserole dish will work. If you cook it on top of the stove, a cast-iron Dutch oven (bastible**) is ideal.  I used to pre-brown my roasts, but I've given it up for cleaner, less smoky house, fewer accidental burns, and less time and trouble spent on cooking. I don't miss it. Give your roast a sprinkle of paprika before you cook it if you don't want it to seem pale. If you use a roast with a bone in it, you will need a slightly larger roast and can expect it to take another half hour to cook.

4 servings
2 to 2 1/2 hours - 30 minutes prep time

Beef Pot-Roast with Horseradish Sauce

Cook the Beef:
600g to 800g (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) whole boneless pot roast
salt & pepper
3 bay leaves
4 medium potatoes
2 medium carrots
1 leek OR 3 shallots
1 medium white turnip OR winter radish
4 stalks of celery OR 1 small celeriac

2 cups beef broth, or broth and wine combination

Season the roast with salt and pepper, and place it in a pot which will fit it and the vegetables snugly but sufficiently, with the bay leaves underneath it.

Wash and cut the potatoes into chunks. Peel and cut the carrots into bite-sized pieces. Clean and trim the leek and cut it into bite-sized pieces, or peel and chop the shallots. Peel and dice the turnip or radish - you could also use about 1 cup diced rutabaga instead of either of those. Trim and chop the celery, or peel and dice the celeriac.  Fit these in around the roast. Pour in 2 cups of beef broth, replacing up to half of it with leftover wine, should you happen to  have any. You could even use water if you lack both broth and wine, but add a little good vinegar and or Worcestershire sauce in that case.

If you elect to cook your roast on top of the stove, put it on the burner and bring it up to bare boil. Reduce the heat and simmer it gently for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It should never actually boil. Turn it half-way through the cooking process. Keep it covered while it cooks. Turn it off and let it rest for about 15 minutes once it is done.

If you cook your roast in the oven, I find it easiest to put it into a cold oven, then turn the oven to 250°F. Roast for about 2 hours; again, once it is done, leave it in the pot to rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

 Make the Sauce:
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup broth
1/3 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Put the 4 tablespoons in a small pot with the flour, and mix well. Cook gently until the mixture is thick and pasty.

Remove the broth from the roasting pan, and slowly mix it into the horseradish. Bring it up to a simmer, and simmer until thick. Set this aside until the roast is sliced and the vegetables are in their serving dish. Then, bring it back up to the simmer and mix in the sour cream and another tablespoon of horseradish. As soon as the sauce is hot through again, put it in a serving jug or bowl and pass it with the beef and vegetables. The remaining broth can be used to make soup.

Last year at this time I made Ropa Vieja and Picadillo.

*If you use a Romertopf, don't forget it must be soaked for 15 to 20 minutes before you fill it.  I also have started using a slightly lower temperature with it, because I think it builds up a lot of heat.

**I was amused to discover, a number of years back, that a "Dutch" oven got the name as an ethnic slur - it was an "oven" for people too poor to have a proper oven. The correct name is bastible, but it is now so obscure that few people know it.

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