A couple chuck roast questions
I'm braising a 3.5lb chuck roast tomorrow after a poor pot roast experience last week. I'm doing it stove-top in a 7qt. dutch oven. To prepare, I cut small slits into the roast which I then stuffed small garlic slices into, patted the roast down with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and placed the roast in a marinade mixture of balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke. molasses, minced garlic, and some oregano. I have some potatoes, red and yellow onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms that I plan to add to the mix tomorrow.
That said, here's what I'm curious about:
The braising liquid... What are some good suggestions here and in what proportion? I have beer, red wine, beef broth, worchestershire, basamic vinegar, liquid smoke, and tomato puree. What are some good combos with these and other ingredients?
The veggies... I'm planning on braising at the lowest temp possible and allowing plenty of time for the roast to tenderize. When should I add the different veggies?
The browning... I'm planning on browning the roast in the dutch oven in some olive oil. Is olive oil the way to go, and for how long should I brown? One sidenote here, I have noticed a few suggestions to flour the roast prior to browning... What are the effects of this?
One final question... I have also read a few reccommendations to cut the roast into smaller pieces and add back to the braising liquid when close to done. Are there any disadvantages to this?
Thanks for the help!
As far as braising liquids go, I have had great luck with beer, chicken stock, thyme and tomato paste. For a 4 lbs roast, I used a bottle of beer (12 oz) and 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, 3 teaspoons of dried thyme and 2 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I use a darker beer (Shiner Bock) as opposed to a pilsner or lager.
I have also used wine before and that works well, although I think I prefer the beer based braising liquid.
I add two sets of veggies. One set is chopped to use as aromatics, and I put that in after I remove the browned roast (pieces of roast) I used carrots and onions. Then deglaze with the beer and chicken stock. The second set of veggies are large chunks for the "side dish" and I used more onions, carrots, and whole cremini mushrooms.
I like olive oil, although bacon grease, or peanut oil also work well. As far a as flouring goes, that is just to help give it a brown crust, BUT, if your duch oven is heavy enough and hot enough, you don't need flour to get a nice caramelization on your roast. I do mine at med-high head for about 8 to 10 minutes side. Even if your first though is I am overcooking it, you need to remember, you are going to cook the heck out of it by braising anywaym so try to get as much caramelization as you can.
I'm not sure I understand the last question, but after about 3 hours at 350, I pull out my roast and let it rest a bit while strain away some of the grease and reduce the "gravy" to thicken it up (about 10 minutes) then I slice the roast (about 3/4 to 1 inch thick" and toss it back into the pot with all the juices.
Hope this helps, and good cooking!
Glad to see your back in the saddle. I like to season the meat with S & P then dust in flour before browning. The flour will help thicken the liquid slightly and give nice browning. For liquid obviously there are lots of options. I usually go for red wine and maybe stock. Chicken is my favorite as it has a lighter flavor and you will basically get beef broth formed as you braise. For aromatics I tend to stay with the basics. Onions, shallots, carrots and maybe celery. You can use dried herbs as well like rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. I usually get rid of the vegetables that were added at the beginning of the braise. They are just too mushy and don't add much to the final dish. You can cook some new ones in the liquid from your braise to serve with the meat. Some like to leave the meat in the liquid over night feeling that it improves flavor and they can defat the liquid easily. Just remember to bring to temp slowly and check after 2-3 hrs for doneness. Let rest in the liquid before removing the meat. Why are you doing it on the stove? The oven provides such a nice stable environment and needs little attention.
I would use mostly beef stock and add a bit of red wine and a dash of Worcestershire. I use enough to cover the roast by approx 1/2". I have never used tomato paste , but it would add a bit of sweetness and color.
I usually season the roast with Penzeys prime rib rub, that I was comped with my last order. It contains salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, onion, celery seed. Adding a bay leaf or 2 is traditional.
I tend to add the carrots and potatoes about 90 minutes before I plan to serve it. the celery can be chopped and added at the beginning, and the mushrooms only need a few minutes.
The oil is entirely up to you, and I doubt that amount used would add any noticeable flavor. I tend to use a generic cooking oil that I have in the pantry. The flour is there to give a bit more crust, and it will also thicken the cooking liquid.
Cutting the roast into smaller pieces will make it cook faster, as more surface area is exposed to the heat. The presentation would not be as nice if you like to slice it.
When I make a chuck roast in the oven I put the slivers of garlic in it, as you do. Then I put a splash of liquid smoke, or worchestershire, or soy sauce, then add the seasonings on top of that. Next I put a thin layer of flour on that, all the way around - the moisture from the liquid keeps the flour stuck to the roast. I pat it in well, and then brown it in butter in my cast iron skillet. When it has a nice brown crust on it, each side and I try to maneuver the roast so it gets a bit of brown on the outer edges as well. Then I put it in the pan to go into the oven. I add some broth, or whatever liquid I want it to cook in, then add the vegetables, and top the roast with slices of onion. The size of the vegetables determines how quickly they will cook, so I put in big chunks of potatoes, and small chunks of celery and carrots, since I don't serve those. Cover with foil and cook at 325 - 350 for about 4 hours.
The flour, even though it looks brown and a little crispy when it goes in, ends up being soft and makes the gravy better. I learned that from a cooking class many years ago. I take the meat out, let it sit to the side, get the potatoes out, cover with foil and set on the stove. Then I strain the juices, and let the grease separate from the juice. I have a handy cup that makes that easy to do. Cook that down to the consistency you like. If you don't have enough you can add more broth or whatever.
I have never marinated a chuck roast, but I do marinate a brisket overnight. I would be interested to hear how that tastes. I wonder if it gets into the meat better? Hmm.
Great stuff! Thanks for the feedback. I'll post the results later.
With respect to the gravy, I'v noticed three different methods on these boards:
1) Thickening with flour/constarch
2) Thickening with roux
3) Blending braising liquid + veggies in a blender
I am just learning how to make gravy, which method should I go with?
I usually use the flour/cornstarch method if I want a clearer gravy. I use a half and half mixture (1/2 flour 1/2 cornstarch) and add the salt & pepper into the dry mix. Then I whisk that in cold water until it is not too thick and not too thin, then I add that to the broth.
If I am making a cream gravy I use a roux. I honestly have never mixed the vegetables with the liquid, but have just served the liquid as is, like an au jus. Of course that is after straining well and separating the fat from it.
Hmmm, I'll have to think about that. The creamy roux gravy sounds great. Is seperating the fat out better for the taste and texture of the gravy or is it more of a health choice? Also, how far down should I let the braising liquid reduce before adding either the water + flour/cornstarch or roux. My Mom tells me to reduce until there is nothing but a thick residue left, then add hot water and bring to a boil, then add the thickening agent. Does this much reduction bring out more flavors or can I just add the thickening agent when the braising liquid has reduced to the approximate amount of gravy I'm looking for.
Getting the fat out is not only for health reasons, but the fat doesn't blend real well and can give you an oily texture. A little bit is just fine. When I make gravy with the flour mixture, I add it right after it comes to a rolling boil. I mix the water, flour mix, etc., into a little custard up and put about half in at first, then as it reduces, if it is too thin, I am ready with the rest of the mix. You don't want to put too much in at the beginning, or it will mess up the taste.
With a roux you begin with that and then add the liquids to it. Like when I make sausage gravy, I cook the sausage, take it out of the pan leaving some of the fat in the pan, add the flour and cook until it is a nice brown color, and doesn't smell like flour. Make sure to scrape up any tasty bits in the pan. Then I add the milk slowly, bringing it to a boil, constantly stirring. If I need more gravy I add a bit more milk and cook until it is almost the consistency I want. I re-add the sausage and let it finish up.
Hope this helps!