Friday, September 23, 2016

Cranberry Pot Roast

Happy autumn, guys! It's always a bummer when summer comes to a close, but the cozy days of fall are some of my favorites. Sweater weather, apple picking, and comfort food? Yes, please!

Growing up, one of my favorite fall meals was Cranberry Pot Roast. My mom used cranberry juice in place of chicken broth. (Knowing my mom, she was out of broth one day and made an on-the-fly substitution. Way to get dinner on the table, Mom!) It's been years since I've had Cranberry Pot Roast, and when the crisp weather rolled in, I decided it was time to give it a whirl. Instead of cranberry juice, I used cranberry sauce. Just the canned stuff, people. But if you have leftover homemade cranberry sauce, by all means, use that.

In addition to being delicious and make-ahead friendly, I love Cranberry Pot Roast because it's forgiving. After adding the veggies and popping the roast back in the oven for the final 45 minutes of cooking time, I decided to take the kids to the park. "Oh, we'll be back in time to turn off the oven. No prob!" So an hour later when we were flying down the slide, and I finally looked at my watch...whoops! We hustled back to rescue the roast, and this baby was no worse for wear. It was perfectly tender. Now this is the kind of meal that fits with my lifestyle.

Let's get cooking!

Cranberry Pot Roast
Adapted from Pot Roast with Bacon and inspired by my mom

2 tablespoons olive oil
3-4 pound beef bottom round roast
Salt and pepper
1 rib of celery, diced
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 pounds carrots, divided - dice 2 carrots, and cut the rest into 1" chunks
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (14 ounce) can whole cranberry sauce (or use homemade)
1-2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
8 ounces whole cremini mushrooms
Cooked egg noodles or mashed potatoes for serving
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Season beef generously with salt and pepper. Add beef to pan and cook, turning as needed, until all sides are browned, about 8-10 minutes total. (You'll know it's time to turn the beef when it's easy to flip. If it's sticking to the pot, it's not ready. Give it another minute to cook then try again.) If the browned bits on the bottom of the pan start to burn, turn the heat down to medium. When the roast is browned, remove to a plate and set aside.

Add diced carrot (set aside the carrots cut into 1" chunks until later), celery, and onion to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, sugar, and thyme until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in cranberry sauce, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return meat to pan. Pour in enough chicken broth so the liquid reaches about halfway up the side of the roast. (For me, this was about 1.5 cups of broth.) Add bay leaf to the pan. Bring liquid to a boil. Cover, turn off the stove, and put the covered pot in the oven.

Allow the beef to cook for 3 hours, turning the meat over a few times while it cooks. Add the remaining carrots and parsnips to the pot, making sure they're submerged in liquid. Re-cover the pot, and cook for an additional 45 minutes to 1.25 hours (if you're at the park), until meat and vegetables are tender.

Remove meat and vegetables to the serving dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Skim any fat from the liquid remaining in the pot. (If you have one, you can use a fat separator to remove the fat and then return the liquid to the pot.) Bring the cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour cooking liquid over meat and veggies and serve over buttered egg noodles. Garnish with parsley if you're feeling fancy.

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