Monday, January 16, 2017

Beer Braised Pot Roast

Funny how inspiration for a meal strikes you sometime. This one started with half a dozen bottles of beer that had been sitting in my fridge for six months - bottles of beer left by my kids during a visit last summer. Bottles of beer taking up space and needing to be used. Oh, I like the occasional beer on a hot summer's day, or even with chili in the winter, but I'm partial to a glass (or two) of wine most of the time.

So the beer needed to be drunk, or used in a recipe. And when I thawed this hunk of beef from the freezer, the light bulb went off. Why not make beef a la carbonnade - the classic Belgian beef stew with beer?

But instead of carving the roast into cubes, as in the traditional recipe, I wanted to leave it whole, and serve slices of beef in a rich gravy.

Start with a roast - this was a top round roast - not an especially tender piece of meat, but braising for three hours takes care of that. Season mightily with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil until brown all over.

Remove the beef from the pan, then fry some bacon (always a good thing) in the same pan. Remove the bacon and the grease, then sauté some diced onions in butter until nearly golden. 

Put the beef and everything else in the pan. Cover and let it cook on low heat on the range for three hours. I would have just popped it in the oven for three hours instead of cooking it on the range, but I had a cake baking and couldn't disturb it.

The beef will have shrunk and you'll have lots of liquid with a fair amount of fat on the surface. Skim off as much as you can. Remove the meat and use a stick blender to make the sauce more homogeneous. It doesn't have to be a purée, but I didn't want to eat bites of once-crisp bacon that had now turned flabby. 

Besides, a smoother sauce caresses those noodles you'll serve it with oh-so-much better. 

If you prefer, serve it with mashed potatoes, or even rice.

Even after two dinners and one lunch, there was still plenty of leftover beef and gravy. How to refashion it into something new?

 Cut it into strips, add some sautéed mushrooms, then a little water and sour cream into the gravy and you've got a poor man's beef stroganoff.

Again, it's delicious over noodles (especially if they're home made.)

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Beer Braised Pot Roast

1 4-5 lb. top or bottom round roast

2 T. olive oil

salt, pepper

4 slices bacon, cut into large pieces

3 sweet yellow onions, diced (@3 cups)

6 cloves garlic

1 T. butter

2 c. beef broth

2 c. dark beer or amber ale

1 T. tomato sauce or tomato paste (I had some leftover in the fridge, but you can omit if you like)

a couple of bay leaves, rosemary sprigs and fresh thyme.

Use a sturdy, oven-proof pot.

Salt and pepper the roast heavily, then sauté in the olive oil until browned on all surfaces. Remove from the pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, then drain the bacon grease. Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter until nearly golden. Add the meat back to the pot, along with the broth, beer, tomato sauce and herbs.

Cook at low heat on top of the stove for three hours, or in the oven at 325 for three hours.

Remove the meat from the pot, then using a stick blender, smooth out the sauce.

Slice the meat and serve with the gravy, over noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. 

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