Benedict “Benny” Moliere was my parrain, or godfather, and one of my favorite people: a massively strong man who could work and drink with the best of them, he also had a quiet nature that bordered on shyness. According to my father, as Uncle Benny saw it, a chuck roast was just a “steak” and he’d cook one up in the evening and eat the whole thing during the night. That story always puts me in a good mood and today’s pot roast recipe is in honor of Uncle Benny.
What I used:
2-3 LB chuck roast
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 TBSP canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 TBSP flour
1 small bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon of celery seed
Dry seasonings of choice, to taste
2 bay leaves
4-6 cups of beef stock, vegetable stock or water
What I did:
Rinse the chuck roast and pat dry with paper towels. Slice two of the garlic cloves into five or six length-wise slices each. Using a sharp knife, pierce the roast about 1 1/2 inches deep and insert a slice of garlic. Repeat at 2-3 inch intervals. Aggressively salt and pepper both sides of the roast.
Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. When it is almost smoking, place the chuck roast in, garlic side down. Turn heat down to medium. Brown, but don’t burn, both sides.
Remove roast and set aside. There should be drippings from the roast in the bottom of the pot. Drop fire down to medium-low and add onion to pot, stirring periodically to avoid browning. When onions begin to turn translucent, add flour and stir constantly for a minute or two to break up lumps. The flour does not need to brown. Add bell pepper, stirring over heat for 3-4 minutes, or until bell pepper starts to wilt. Finely chop remaining garlic cloves and add. Add dry seasonings and bay leaves, and stir well for about one minute. Add 4 cups of beef stock or water and increase fire to high until you get a rolling boil, and then turn fire down to medium-high. Stir well to loosen the caramelized bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Turn fire down to low.
Return roast to the Dutch oven. Liquid in pot should just cover the roast. This will ensure enough gravy at the end. Add stock if necessary. Cover and cook over low fire for 1 hour, adding stock if liquid thickens or gets low.
After the first hour of cooking, use a large spoon to skim fat off the top of the liquid. Adjust your seasoning and your gravy here as well. Cover and cook over low heat for another hour.
The finished product:
Uncle Benny was a son of Louisiana, so he would have eaten his roast with white rice, but a savory pot roast with a rich gravy like this one could be paired with anything from potatoes to quinoa.