Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cooking the Cow: Chuck Roast

You have the whole beef, in an overwhelming jumble of little packets in your freezer. Now what?

This is the first second thing I cook.

Burgers always come first.

Caffe Mingo's sugo di carne. We served it on top of zucchini "noodles" and corn spaghetti.

This is a recipe for cool weekends. It comes together easily, but cooks a long time. It will serve a big family and freezes well. (We get two dinners out of this batch.) It tastes better two days later. It can be served on any kind of pasta, over sauteed greens, with rice or polenta...

Don't stress about using real espresso. Leftover breakfast coffee works fine--just double the amount.

The chuck roasts we got this year are have bones in them and are super marbled. So, hack those bones off and save them in the freezer for broth, or add them to this braise for more flavor, pulling them out at the end. They run along each side, so it is pretty easy to slice them off and have a remaining rectangle of meat.

I'm lazy, so I cut the meat into bigger chunks. More like four inches.

And when you shred the chunks of meat at the end, use your hands and chuck the extra fat in the dog bowl—if those fatty bits squick you out, as they do me.

Our roasts are 3 to 4 pounds. I halved the recipe, except for the tomatoes.

So, essentially, this:

Anna's Adapted Meat Sauce

3 T. butter
1 chuck roast, cut into 6-8 chunks (cut out bones)
1-2 onions, halved, thinly sliced
1/2 bottle cheap red wine (not sweet, Buck Chuck Cab works just fine)
1 28 oz. can of tomatoes
3/4 cup brewed coffee or 1/2 cup espresso

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Melt 1 T. butter in large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, add to pot, and brown on all sides. Transfer beef to large bowl.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining 2 T. butter to pot. Add onions and cook until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
  • Dump beef and any leaky juices back into pot. Add wine, tomatoes (crushing a bit with your hands if they are whole), and coffee. Bring to boil, cover, and transfer to oven.
  • Braise beef until tender, about 2 hours. Cool.
  • Using your hands, shred beef chunks. Discard extra fatty bits. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  • (Can be refrigerated several days or frozen.)

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