Braised beef with beer and root vegetables

(food styling/sheryl julian; pat greenhouse/globe staff)
January 30, 2008

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Serves 4

A variation of Yankee pot roast, this braised beef has a warm, toasty flavor from beer, dried apricots, and aromatic spices. Prepare it the day before you want to serve it so the dish mellows and the root vegetables release their own sweetness into the pot. This also allows the fat to solidify so you can remove it. After reheating, slice the beef and serve it with the vegetables, braising liquid, and buttered egg noodles or roasted potatoes. The next day, shred leftover beef. Then mix about 1/2 cup mayonnaise with 2 chopped canned chipotle peppers. Make sandwiches on crusty French bread with sliced tomatoes.

1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 pounds), tied with string
Olive oil (for rubbing)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bottles (12 ounces each) dark beer such as stout or porter
2 cups water
1 can (15 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
6 dried apricots
5allspice berries, 10 peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, 4 parsley sprigs, and 3 whole cloves tied in cheesecloth
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large turnip, cut into 1-inch chunks

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Rub the beef with a faint coating of oil. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. In a large, flameproof casserole, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. Brown the meat over medium-high heat, turning often, for 20 minutes.

2. Remove the beef from the pan. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

3. Pour in the beer, water, and tomatoes. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release the sediment. Add the apricots and cheesecloth bundle. Return the meat to the pan. Bring to a boil.

4. Cover the pan and transfer it to the oven. Braise the meat for 1 1/2 hours, turning it halfway through cooking.

5. Add the carrots and turnips to the pan. Continue cooking for 1 hour more or until the vegetables are tender.

6. Set the meat and vegetables on a platter and cover loosely with foil; keep warm. Discard the cheesecloth bundle. Strain the braising juices into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer steadily, skimming fat from the surface of the liquid, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy. Discard the strings from the meat and cut into slices. Serve with the juices and vegetables. - Leigh Belanger