le creuset

Making a good pot roast is a infinitely rewarding experience; how else can you take a relatively cheap and tough piece of meat, leave it alone for a few hours, and have a rich and delicious meal waiting for you at the end? Sunday roasts are a tradition here in the Western world, and we don’t make this dish often enough. I have two simple rules when it comes to judging a successful pot roast: 1) it should never require a knife to cut, and 2) gravy should be minimal and complementary, and not used as a quick fix for a dry roast. Many cuts of beef can be used for pot roast, but I have found that a chuck roast has the perfect blend of affordability and marbling.

Let’s talk about how I approach this dish, and most other roasts. The term “to roast” actually means to cook in a dry heat, which can often result in a dry dish. Roasting in its most effective form is over an open flame or a rotisserie, which is definitely not what we’re going for with this dish. Most of the “roasting” I do is actually “braising” – roasting it in liquid – which is also commonly called “pot roasting” (you can see the ambiguity, right?). Braising a piece of meat is important because it allows the meat’s connective tissue to melt, resulting in a tastier and more tender dish. With a dry roast, you are likely to have a dry meat with hardened connective tissue.

I should also mention that this roast, and many of my other dishes, wouldn’t be possible without my incredible Le Creuset French Oven. What makes this oven ideal is its heavy cover which keeps moisture locked in. Its $275 price point might seem steep, but you can use it in hundreds of ways and has a 101-year warranty. If you’re going to have only one dish for the rest of your life, I say that you’d be safe with this one.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Editor’s Note: this recipe is from before I switched to the Paleo Diet, but all you need to do to make this dish Paleo-friendly is omit the beans.

Ah, chili. One of the most hotly-debated dishes a person can serve in America, perhaps second only to BBQ ribs. And like many of my other recipes, I’m quick to concede that this recipe isn’t for everyone; this is a generally mild chili that goes well with chili dogs, chili burgers, or on top of a scoop of white rice.

For me, the most important aspect of chili is having it blend into one single element and texture – nothing bothers me more than a chili that just looks like a bunch of ingredients thrown together. Luckily, my handy Magic Bullet helps to puree most of the chunkier ingredients while still retaining its necessary taste. I also add a couple of seemingly odd ingredients, which play important roles: cocoa powder for richness and complexity, and mayonnaise for smoothness and just a touch of creaminess.

This dish takes a little over three hours to make: one hour to prep and soften the tomatoes and two hours to cook the chili itself.

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