This is the irony of autumn, yesterday I was stewing summer gems like tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini and today I'm making a rich braised beef.
A chuck roast is a powerhouse cut, it is flavorful and cheap—this is how you feed a crowd on a budget. I like to cut the roast into large pieces, then everyone gets a nice large hunk of beef and the meat stays moist.
The most essential (and time consuming) step in this recipe is the browning of the beef. The oil must be very hot when the pieces go in and once you place them in the pot —a few at a time now, don't crowd—leave them alone. Once a nice brown crust has formed, then you can turn them, but to get that crust will take about 5 minutes per side. This is where you develop all the flavor so you don't want to skimp on this step.
Makes 8 servings
1 (6 pound) boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 3-inch pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 pound carrots, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 quart beef stock or low-sodium beef broth
1. Generously season beef on all sides with salt and pepper; cover with flour. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before cooking.
2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once shimmering, add beef a few pieces at a time, shaking off excess flour. Let beef brown on one side before turning (about 5 minutes) then turn and brown on remaining sides. Remove to a clean plate and repeat with remaining pieces.
3. Add vegetables to pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook until starting to brown, add thyme, bay leaves, cloves and wine. Scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pot then return beef and all juices plus the stock and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook until beef is tender, about 2 hours. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with steamed rice, mashed potatoes, or polenta.