Pot Roast with Polenta
I hadn’t really planned on doing a pot roast, but the supermarket had a special on beef chuck roast and it was a cold rainy weekend, so I just had to do something. Yes, there’s actually a big hunk of beef under all those vegetables. I’d also found this video for making polenta that I wanted to try out, and it seemed like a good thing to try it out with. As usual I didn’t really follow a particular recipe. I took some inspiration from this Jamie Olvier Stew recipe (the garlic, lemon zest and rosemary on top among other things). Some additional inspiration from just generally looking at pot roast recipes on epicurious and the vegetables that looked good down at Wilsons. Here’s what I ended up with:
Beef Pot Roast with Polenta
4 lb (approx) beef chuck roast
1-2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 carrots, cut in large pieces
2-3 large potatoes, large pieces
1 cup (or so) red wine
thyme (I had some fresh growing that I used, I’d probably use 1-2 tsp of dried)
1-2 bay leaf
16 oz beef stock or water
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the meat with salt & pepper. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then the beef. Briefly brown the roast on a couple of sides, then remove. Add the chopped onions to the pot with a little more oil if needed. Add the garlic once the onions have started to soften. Once the onions are translucent, return the beef to the pot, add the rest of the vegetables along with the red wine and stock or water along with the thyme and bay leaf. You want enough liquid to come up to the top of the meat and vegetables, but they don’t need to be completely submerged. Cover the pot and stick it in the oven for about 3 hours. It’s done when the big hunk of meat is starting to fall to pieces. Before serving adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Finely chop the lemon zest, rosemary and garlic together. Sprinkle the mixture over the top just before serving.
The topping is kind of like a gremolata, made with rosemary instead of parsley. If fresh rosemary was hard to find I would definitely try it with parsley instead.
I halve the recipe from the video, but you could certainly double this to have leftovers.
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp butter
Pour 1 cup of cold water into a bowl and add the cornmeal. Whisk it together so there are no lumps. This is the secret to this recipe in my opinion. The fact that the cornmeal is already a paste means that it doesn’t instantly form lumps when added to the boiling water.
Put the other 2 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the water is boiling, add the cornmeal paste and stir to keep lumps from forming. Keep stirring the mixture over medium low heat until it’s very thick (the recipe says 30 minutes – I find that it’s pretty think after just 10 minutes, so use some judgement). Take the polenta off the heat and stir in the butter. Pour the polenta into a well buttered bowl (I use a loaf tin) and let it sit about 10 minutes to cool and set. Once it’s set, invert the bowl onto a plate and cut thick slices. Serve the slices with stew over the top.
If you have leftover polenta, you can cut it into slices and fry them the next day.