Supremely tasty pot roasts for winter dining

by Lauraine Jacobs / 16 June, 2017

Classic beef pot roast with parsley pesto. Photo/Liz Clarkson; styling by Kate Arbuthnot

Easy to prepare, the pot roast is one of the pleasures of cooking in the cold season. 

As colder weather sets in, meal preparation adapts to the change of seasons. The pot roast comes into its own at this time of year, and the aroma of meat gently simmering away on the stove top brings the promise of a tasty meal.

Mastering the art of this cooking technique will pay dividends. Cheaper cuts of meat need long slow cooking so they become tender enough to almost fall apart. Meals can be prepared well ahead, and by introducing a variety of herbs, spices and added vegetables, it’s easy to change the flavour of any recipe.

Pot roasts usually develop their own saucy liquid, too, so there’s no need to fiddle with sauce and gravy-making at the last minute.

It is essential to start cooking a pot roast by browning the meat, onions and garlic before adding any liquid. Wine, stock or even water can be used as the liquid, and in an unusual turn, this week’s pork recipe uses milk in place of those three. The long slow cooking creates a delicious milky skin, and the lemon in the flavourings turns the milk into soft, tasty curds.

Herbs, spices and even a dollop of high-quality flavourful vinegar will liven up any pot roast. I’ve always insisted on fresh herbs, but I have recently been playing with dried herbs to add an even greater depth of flavour – they’re perfect for winter dishes. Just make sure your dried thyme, tarragon, parsley or mixed dried Mediterranean herbs have not been stored away at the back of the cupboard for more than 12 months.

A heavy pot with a heavy lid is critical to pot-roasting success. Enamelled cast iron is the best choice. I invested many years ago in a heavy-lidded Le Creuset casserole, which still cooks beautifully, allowing rich flavour development without burning or catching on the base.

Classic beef pot roast with parsley pesto

1.5kg piece of topside or blade steak

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 onions, sliced

2 slices bacon, cut into lardons

300ml red wine

2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

2 bay leaves

a few sprigs thyme

400g tin crushed Italian tomatoes in juice

THE PESTO

large bunch of fresh parsley

1 tsp Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground pepper

30g parmesan, grated finely

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Season the beef on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish and brown the beef on all sides. Remove to a plate.

Brown the sliced onions and bacon together in the dish, then add the wine and bring to a simmer, scraping or deglazing the residue in the dish. After 2-3 minutes, add the carrots, bay leaves, thyme, tomato with its juices, and bring the liquid back to a simmer.

Add the chunk of beef back into the simmering liquid and cover. Leave to simmer for about 2½ hours until the beef is tender.

Meanwhile, make the parsley pesto by whizzing everything together in a food processor or blender until it forms a paste.

When ready to serve, take the beef out, put on a plate and cover with foil and a towel on top of that to keep it warm while you skim off any extra surface fat.

Bring the liquid back to a simmer and reduce until thick and syrupy.

To serve, slice the beef, spoon over the sauce and drizzle over the parsley pesto.

Serves 4-6
Wine match: syrah

Pork cooked in milk. Photo/Liz Clarkson; styling by Kate Arbuthnot

Pork cooked in milk

1.5kg free-range loin of pork, skin removed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 thin strips lemon peel

1 tsp coriander seeds

4 sage leaves

1 litre whole milk

Remove the rind from the pork and cut away most of the fat. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole dish that will fit the pork snugly. Brown the pork on all sides until it is golden and then remove to a plate so you can pour off the oil and fat.

Add the lemon peel, slightly crushed coriander seeds and sage to the dish. Return the pork to sit on top of these and pour in enough milk to come about halfway up the pork. Bring the milk to a simmer and cook for about 90 minutes, with the lid slightly off. Check frequently and stir back into the liquid any skin that forms on the sides of the dish. Do not allow the milk to boil over, and top it up if it reduces too much. A golden skin will form after about an hour and the milk will curdle. This is ideal, as the curds make a delicious sauce.

When the meat is cooked and tender, remove it very carefully and carve into neat, thin slices. Scrape up the curds and spoon them over the top.

Can be served hot or cold. Nice accompanied with a salad of fresh mixed green leaves.

Serves 4-6
Wine match: chardonnay

Carving set from Quail Farm Collectables, Omaha Flats Rd, Omaha Beach; Casserole dishes and little bowls at Le Creuset stockists, 0800 52 69 74.

This article was first published in the June 3, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.


Get the Listener delivered to your inbox

Subscribe now


Latest

Stormy Daniels could sink Trump faster than Robert Mueller – here's why
91456 2018-05-26 00:00:00Z World

Stormy Daniels could sink Trump faster than Robert…

by Paul Thomas

Scandal piles on scandal for President Donald Trump. But there's a view that Stormy Daniels poses more of a threat than the Russia investigation.

Read more
How to drink alcohol 'mindfully'
90452 2018-05-26 00:00:00Z Health

How to drink alcohol 'mindfully'

by Rosamund Dean

Some practical advice from Rosamund Dean’s game-changing plan to attain – still merry – self-restraint.

Read more
There's nothing to fear at Outward Bound – except for fear itself
91356 2018-05-26 00:00:00Z Travel

There's nothing to fear at Outward Bound – except …

by Lauren Buckeridge

The Outward Bound school at Anakiwa makes you stare fear in the face and conquer it. Lauren Buckeridge does just that.

Read more
Techweek: The mixed bag that is our fledgling gig economy
91500 2018-05-25 14:12:09Z Tech

Techweek: The mixed bag that is our fledgling gig …

by Peter Griffin

The gig economy isn’t yet proving a viable alternative for most people dreaming of being their own boss.

Read more
Could medicinal cannabis be a cash cow for our poorest regions?
91486 2018-05-25 11:51:26Z Business

Could medicinal cannabis be a cash cow for our poo…

by Max Towle

Ruatoria-based Hikurangi Enterprises wants to be front and centre in the medicinal cannabis industry.

Read more
Be like Mike: Lessons the National Party could learn from Hosking
91478 2018-05-25 07:42:51Z Politics

Be like Mike: Lessons the National Party could lea…

by Graham Adams

Leaders of the National Party come and go, but Mike Hosking endures. Simon Bridges could learn from him.

Read more
M bovis will cost $1 billion - no matter what the solution is
91474 2018-05-25 07:03:24Z Environment

M bovis will cost $1 billion - no matter what the …

by Eric Frykberg

Wrangling over what to do about the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis is going down to the wire but whatever the solution, it's expected to cost $1b.

Read more
Ireland's abortion referendum:  what you need to know
91404 2018-05-25 00:00:00Z World

Ireland's abortion referendum: what you need to k…

by Claire Pierson

Ireland is holding a referendum later today that could dramatically change its stance on abortion. Here’s a rundown of what's happening and why.

Read more