The notion of Sunday cooking suggests a homey, hearty dish that pulls family together around the table for the most restorative meal of the week. Because I grew up in the Midwest, Sunday meant pot roast—especially when the weather cooled. In my favorite recipe, a well-marbled chuck roast is braised in coffee and whiskey. To create the deepest flavors, season the meat an hour before cooking and brown it on all sides before roasting. The aromas that permeate your home will have you anticipating the meal even more than usual.
Cowboy Pot Roast With Coffee and Whiskey
1 boneless chuck roast (about 3 pounds)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 large onions, sliced
1 bulb garlic
1–3 serrano chiles, as desired for heat
1–2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups canned tomatoes with their juice
1/2 cup whiskey
2–4 fresh bay leaves, torn
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 4-inch lengths
1 pound Yukon gold or fingerling potatoes, sliced into 2-inch chunks or halved1.
An hour before you plan to cook, take the beef out of the fridge. Combine the salt, pepper, cumin, thyme and rosemary in a bowl; massage the spicy mixture evenly over the roast.2.
While the meat comes to room temperature, preheat the oven to 250 degrees and assemble the other ingredients. Slice each onion into 8 wedges, and peel and crush the garlic cloves. Slice each serrano from just below the stem to the tip (so it is split but stays intact).3.
In a large measuring cup, whisk together the beef broth, instant espresso and paprika until blended.4.
When you’re ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pot is very hot but not smoking, add the roast and cook until it is crusty and deep brown on all sides.5.
Transfer meat to a plate, lower the heat to medium and place the onions, garlic and chiles in the pot. Cook, stirring, until mixture is coated with beef fat and the onions soften. Add the broth mixture, tomatoes, whiskey and bay leaves, stirring up any browned bits. Return the roast to the pan and nestle into the liquid.6.
Cover the pot and place in the oven. Roast 1 hour, then carefully turn roast over and return to oven for another hour.7.
Remove pot from oven, and tuck carrots and potatoes around the meat. Cover and cook for a final hour or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the pot from the oven and allow the meat to rest, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.8.
To serve, use a fork and tongs to remove pieces of the meat to plates. (It will be very tender.) Surround with vegetables and a generous portion of the juice.Serves 6–8.
Pot sizes vary, so make sure the broth only comes one-third to halfway up the sides of the roast. Too much liquid will result in more of a stew than slow-roasted meat with gravy.
--------------------From Cowgirl Cuisine: Rustic Recipes and Cowgirl Adventures From a Texas Ranch (William Morrow, 2007) by Paula Disbrowe