The nice thing about the divisional weekend and the conference championship weekend is that you have a whole day to concentrate on just two games. No mucking about with the RedZone, no flipping around hoping to catch a better game, just the beauty of one game unfolding and developing before you.
I personally prefer it. I have little patience for the RedZone (sorry, I like to see how the game has developed before the miraculous drive that turned it around for any one team, or how a thousand small breakdowns resulted in everything falling apart), and I think watching just one game in its entirety is more fulfilling, more exciting than something cheap and easy as endless money shot, touchdown highlights being pelted at you one after the other.
Which brings us to today’s recipe, a pot roast sandwich. A slow, long build, your patience rewarded with greatness. Something you can start in the morning and have ready to start either the early or the late game, or somewhere in the middle. It’s a Sunday of just football, and you’re going to need something hearty to get you through it.
Easy Pot Roast Sandwiches
I’m not going to lie, this is the same way I’ve made my regular pot roast — save reserving the potatoes for last and the rolls — for years. Adding a bit of cayenne and chili powder doesn’t make the meat spicy, but it does add a little depth to your meat and your overall flavor. Bay leaves, rosemary and thyme always go well with beef, as well as the extra tomato paste.
You’ll see a lot of people recommending to be very generous with your salting of the beef, but what I have found — and I have a serious salt addiction problem — is you actually end up over doing it. The stock, especially if you use store bought, has loads of sodium in it already.
If you’re tight on oven space you can use your slow cooker if it is large enough, but brown the meat in a skillet first, and then deglaze the pan with some of the stock as not to lose any of that great tasting browned bits at the bottom of the pan.
You will need:
3-4 pound chuck roast, excess fat trimmed off
4 tablespoons flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2-1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups dry red wine (If desired, you can use extra beef stock in place of wine.)
3-5 good sized carrots, peeled, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
3-5 stalks of celery, cleaned, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
2 medium sized yellow onions, quartered
2 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
5-6 sprigs thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste, preferably a tomato paste concentrate
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
2 russet potatoes, peeled, diced and rinsed in cold water (If desired, 2 cups of frozen home fries can be used.)
8-10 crusty rolls
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Trim off the extra fat from the roast. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of flour and the ground cayenne, chili powder, cracked pepper and salt, using adjusting the amount of salt and pepper you need depending on how large the size of your roast is. Rub the seasoning all over the meat until entirely covered.
In a large dutch oven, melt 1 tablespoon butter together with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Gently set your roast in and brown for a couple of minutes on each side. Once you have created a nice browned crust to your roast, add the carrots, celery and onions around and on top of the meat, then pour the red wine over everything and allow it to simmer for a minute to let the wine really get into the meat. Add the beef stock, rosemary, thyme and tomato paste and bring to a low boil.
When the bubbles start to come to surface of the pot, cover and put in the oven. Roast at 350º for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to 250º and roast for 3-4 hours, depending on how big your roast is. You want the meat to easily tear with a fork when done.
Once the meat is ready, remove from the oven. Using a large slotted spoon strain out the carrots, celery and onions and place on a large cutting board. In a large skillet, heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and start to cook the potatoes. Giving a good stir every minute or so they don’t stick. While they cook, roughly cut the cooked carrots, celery and onions. Add to the pan with the potatoes and saute until the potatoes have been completely steamed through and are soft, then remove from the heat.
While the vegetables are cooking, remove the roast from the dutch oven and place on a large platter. Shred using two forks into bite-sized pieces, removing any excess fat that might still remain. Pour just a little bit, say 1/4-1/2 cup, of the reserved stock from the pot over the meat to keep it from drying out.
Strain the reserved stock through a sieve or a cheesecloth until you have about 2 cups worth. In a medium sauce pan, melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter until foamy over medium heat and whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour. Reduce the heat and cook your roux, whisking constantly, until it has reached a rich, golden brown color. Working slowing, add the strained stock until you have whisked in 1 cup worth. Allow to simmer for a minute and thicken and then add in the remaining strained stock until you have the desired consistency to your gravy. (I personally like mine on the thicker side, so about 1 1/4 cups usually does it for me.) If you have a lot of gravy lovers at the party, you can easily double the amount of gravy.
Slice open the rolls (toast if you like, I’ve done it both ways and it doesn’t really matter too much either way) and stuff with the pot roast, potato and vegetable mixture and then top with a little bit of gravy. You should get 8-10 sandwiches out of the roast, with maybe even a little leftover.
Seem like too much work to do for a game day? You can make a day ahead of time and reheat, being sure to leave some stock on the beef so it does dry out when you warm it back up. And don’t throw out all that remaining stock. Strain and save for later in week. Caramelize a bunch of yellow onions and then make into French onion soup.
Meat, potatoes and gravy. The only way it could match up better with football was if your oven was built into the back of a Chevy. And if you still feel like a hearty beef dish this Sunday for your game and you don’t want to hassle with a pot roast, you can always make a Steak and Ale Pie.