I don't know why I don't make this dish more often. It's inexpensive and so good. There are really only two meat eaters in our home, but with baby Aria growing up so fast, I felt she was old enough to try this dish. I used a fairly small cut of beef chuck, seared it to form a crust around the meat, then wrapped it papillote-style in aluminum foil, added beef stock and a few earthy vegetables around it and roasted it for a few hours.
The meat came out fork-tender; no knife was needed. And if you were curious to know if a 17-month-old could enjoy pot roast, well, Aria really liked it. She is not a big meat eater, but she does seem to have a taste for beef.
I served the pot roast with baked potatoes and creamed spinach. That's what I call pure comfort food!
Note: Check out my beef pot pie recipe using the leftovers the next day.
Servings: 4 servings
1½ pounds boneless beef chuck, whole
2 teaspoons papaya paste (see tips)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Brandy (or more beef stock)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 yellow onions
1 bouquet garni
1½ tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
3 cups homemade beef stock, (or 28-ounce can)
1 large daikon radish, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2"-pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons curly parsley leaves, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Searing the meat:
Peel and cut the onions into quarters.
Pat dry the piece of beef. Generously season with salt and pepper.
In a cast iron Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add the quartered onions and cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping on all sides for even cooking. Transfer to a plate. Repeat the same procedure with the daikon radish, cooking it for 1-2 minutes and transferring to a plate. Add more oil if necessary. Add the beef chuck and sear the meat on all sides using tongs so as not to pierce the meat or lose the juice. Line a plate with a large sheet of aluminum foil. Transfer the meat onto half of the sheet of aluminum. Add the vinegar, Brandy (if using), papaya paste, 1 tablespoon butter and the bouquet garni. Fold the other half of the aluminum over the meat and seal the pocket by twisting and folding both sides together.
Return the daikon pieces to the Dutch oven, top with the aluminum-wrapped beef and complete with the onions. Pour the beef stock into the Dutch oven. Cover with a lid.
Roasting the meat:
Place in the oven and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid, increase the temperature to 450°F and continue cooking for another 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes. Gather 1½ cups of pan drippings in a bowl and set aside.
For the gravy:
Melt the remaining butter in small saucepan. Add the flour. Keep stirring manually with a whisk for approximately 2-3 minutes. The flour should absorb the butter and form a paste. Add the pan drippings. Once the sauce is homogeneous, increase the heat while constantly stirring for about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and keep it warm until serving.
Open the papillote and transfer the pot roast, without the pan drippings, to a serving platter. Drizzle with the gravy or serve it on the side in a gravy boat. Add the onions and radish around the beef. Garnish with parsley.
The exact term used here is "en papillote". The material generally used is parchment paper but this time, I used release non-stick aluminum foil (Reynold brand). You could use heavy duty aluminum foil to prevent the sheets from tearing too easily.
How to make a bouquet garni: The traditional bouquet garni is composed of a sprig of thyme (I used lemon thyme), 1 bay leaf (torn in half), 1 small portion of leek (only the green part), a few flat-leaf parsley stems and a small stalk of celery. Gather all the ingredients in a large teabag or in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with some string. You can use it to flavor sauces and broths.
The large teabag I used for the bouquet garni can be found at Daiso, the Japanese version of a 99-cent store. They cost $1.50 for 40 tea bags.
The flatter the onion is, the sweeter it is. I always try to pick flatter-shaped yellow onions at the market.
Papaya is a great meat tenderizer. This was Baji, Lulu's late grandma's secret for tender and moist meat. Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a mini food processor; place about 2 teaspoons of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I store them exactly the same as I would extra pesto, then get them defrost before using them.
The roux (butter, flour and stock mixture) thickens the gravy and is an important step toward the end of cooking.