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The Heart of New England
Yankee Pot Roast
By Charlie Burke

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As with any popular dish, there is no single “correct” recipe for Yankee Pot
Roast
, and we each remember our family’s recipe and consider it the best.
Common to all is the combination or braising and roasting at moderate heat
which slowly tenderizes less expensive cuts of meat.

True to Yankee practicality, vegetables appearing in the recipe depend upon
what is available and economical, most commonly onions, potatoes and carrots,
but turnips, parsnips and even celeriac are not out of place. My mother always
included mushrooms, so I consider them essential and include them in my
recipe.

I’ve mentioned in other recipes that acidity heightens flavor, and most stews
and casseroles contain some acidity, usually provided by wine in European
cooking. Wine was certainly not a staple in New England kitchens until recently
and never, I am sure, found its way into my mother’s cast iron Dutch oven.

In this recipe, tomato paste fills this need and is an ingredient commonly found
in New England pantries in the last century.

Economical cuts of meat are actually essential to this slow cooking; the
connective tissue breaks down leaving moist and tender pieces which are full of
flavor. I prefer bone-in chuck roast and cook it whole. Small pieces of “stew
beef” frequently are trimmings from several cuts, some of which are too lean to
be cooked this way, and the larger piece better maintains its moistness.

Follow the basics of this recipe, adding your favorite herbs or vegetables. I use
garlic, one departure from my mom’s recipe; we grow a few thousand heads
every year, so I think she’d understand. Chopped onion, celery and carrot are
used at the beginning for flavor; add your choice of vegetables to be served
with the meat for the final 40 – 60 minutes of cooking.

Six generous servings:

1 bone – in piece of chuck roast, 4- 5 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
Sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Vegetable oil, such as canola
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 6 sprigs fresh
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons flour
3 ½ cups water or half chicken stock, half water. Do not use beef stock.
2 tablespoons tomato paste (I now use imported Italian paste in tubes which
have a long shelf life and are of excellent quality)
8 – 10 small onions
5 carrots in 1 -2 inch pieces
1 pound red potatoes or larger white potatoes in chunks
1 pound large mushrooms, quartered

Over high heat, pour sufficient oil to cover the bottom of a large Dutch oven or
other large heavy pot (we use a large French enameled iron pot), generously
salt and pepper both sides of the roast and sear meat until well browned on
both sides. Remove meat and pour off oil. Return pot to medium heat and add
chopped carrot, celery, onion and the garlic. Cook stirring, adding a small
amount of oil if necessary, until softened but not browned. Sprinkle flour over
vegetables and stir for 2-3 minutes. Return meat, adding water, tomato paste
and herbs.

Bring to a simmer on top of the stove, cover (use aluminum foil under cover if it
does not fit tightly). Place into preheated 325 degree oven and cook for 2 hours.
Check at 1 hour and turn meat if it is not covered by liquid; add additional
water if liquid is too thick – it should be the consistency of thin gravy.

At 2 – 2 ¼ hours, add remaining vegetables; the time varies according to size.
Cook for a total of 3 hours. If the vegetables are not quite cooked, cover and let
sit – cooking will continue using retained heat. Check for seasoning, adding salt
or pepper to taste.

Skim excess fat from the liquid, cut meat into serving size pieces, arrange on a
heated platter and surround with vegetables. Moisten with some of the liquid,
pass the remainder at the table and enjoy a true New England tradition.

About the author Charlie Burke, an organic farmer and avid cook, is the vice president
of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH Farm to
Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  Along
with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at Weather
Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.
Yankee Pot Roast ... click here for more food recipes
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
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