Eating Well Made Easy: Braised Beef Roast

The promise of cool, fall afternoons has me turning back to this family favorite that I developed last year. This hearty meal fills the home with a rich, yet savory aroma that brings forth a sense of comfort and coziness as it cooks slowly over a long afternoon. It’s the perfect meal for Sunday dinner with the family. You might also like to file this one away for the upcoming holiday season. After two days of turkey over Thanksgiving weekend, this would be a welcome treat for a houseful of guests.

Braising is a cooking technique that sounds fancy, but it just means to cook meat slowly. It is often a good method to choose when dealing with cuts of meat that have a reputation for being “tough.” When a cut of meat is braised well, it will be fork tender and fall apart. For this recipe, I used an arm roast, which had a bone intact. As you’ll see below, I cut the meat into 2 inch cubes and then froze the bone for making stock at a future date. Stew meat and other value cuts are well suited for braising.

If using an arm roast, cube the meat and reserve the bone for making stock at a later date.

Because these cuts of meat generally have a reputation for being tough, they are often budget friendly cuts. Budget friendly doesn’t have to mean boring, though. Cutting the meat into cubes and searing all sides, traps the natural juices inside the meat. Yet the added surface area allows for the red wine and beef broth to mingle more freely, yielding a massive amount of depth and flavor. Because these cuts of meat are often pretty lean, I find that adding fat to the mix can deepen the flavor profile still more. While it is not necessary, I have written the recipe to include a bit of cubed pork belly. You could substitute sliced bacon or an oil of your choice if you’d rather skip the pork.

If using pork belly or bacon for added fat, brown that in the dutch oven before searing the cubes of meat. (You can sub oil for this step and may need to add oil if you chose pork/bacon, but it did not produce enough grease.)

After salting the meat liberally, sear on all sides. You want your meat to touch the pan rather than be stacked in layers, so I often do this step in 2-3 batches, setting each batch aside to cook a new one.

Before we move on to the recipe, let’s talk about cooking with wine. In this case, because of the long cooking time, you can be fairly certain that nearly all of the alcohol has cooked out of the liquid. This study from the USDA presents the alcohol content left behind in food after various cooking times. What is left behind after reducing the wine, is a rich, flavorful sauce in which to cook your beef. I generally use a $10 cabernet with pleasing results. I will say that one time, I had a high quality Malbec on hand, which I used for this recipe. That was phenomenal. So while most wines will do well, there is something to be said for choosing a well bodied, deep fruited wine. Subtle hints of tobacco and dark chocolate would pair well with this recipe. Here is a resource to help you choose a quality (but budget friendly) cooking wine.

I pour three cups of wine into a sauce pan, and because we like garlic in my house, I generally throw in a whole head, crushed.

This is what your wine should look like after having simmered and reduced by half. This takes about 15 minutes. Don’t rush this step. You want it to truly reduce by half, no matter the time it takes.

When choosing root vegetables for this dish, don’t hesitate to experiment. As written, I’ve suggested sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips, but play around with what you enjoy. If I can get my hands on white sweet potatoes, I use those. Turnips, rutabaga, or even celery root could make an interesting addition to the flavor profile.

Choose the root vegetables that you enjoy!

Add all the ingredients to your Dutch oven, except for your root vegetables. Those should be reserved until your final 45 minutes of cooking.

Enjoy the recipe. Adapt and make it your own!

Braised Beef Roast

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Braising is a cooking technique that sounds fancy, but it just means to cook meat slowly.

Ingredients

  • large Dutch oven
  • 3 c. red wine
  • 1 head garlic, crushed (or less per your taste)
  • 1/3 lb. pork belly (optional)
  • 1-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 lb. arm roast
  • Celtic sea salt to taste
  • 2 medium onions, rough chopped
  • 4 celery stalks (with leaves), rough chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1-2 cups beef stock
  • 4 carrots, skinned and chopped to about an inch
  • 4 parsnips, skinned and chopped to about an inch
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, skinned and chopped to about an inch

Directions

  1. Heat your oven to 325 Fahrenheit.
  2. Add three cups of wine and crushed garlic to a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Reduce wine by half. Set aside when done.
  3. While the wine is simmering, cut your roast into two inch cubes. Salt liberally on all sides. Freeze the bone (if there is one) for future use.
  4. If you are adding pork fat via pork belly or bacon, chop that into pieces and begin cooking in your Dutch oven on the stove top.
  5. When the pork is done, remove it from the pan. If there is enough oil to sear the beef without sticking, add a layer of beef to the pan and begin to sear on all sides. If you need to add oil, or if you skipped the pork altogether, add a few Tbsp of oil to the pan before searing. Remove each batch of beef when done. You’re not cooking, just browning the outside of the meat. It should be a quick process. Repeat as necessary to sear all of the cubes.
  6. When done searing, add the reduced wine and garlic to the empty Dutch oven. Stir it gently to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the beef and pork (if used) back into the Dutch oven with the wine.
  8. Rough chop the onion and celery. Add that to the beef, along with the bay leaves and thyme.
  9. Add one cup of beef stock. Have more set aside as you may need it along the way.
  10. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and place it into the oven for two hours.
  11. Rough chop the carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes. Set aside.
  12. At the two hour mark, remove your Dutch oven from the oven. If it is looking dry at the bottom, add 1/2 cup-1 cup of additional stock. Then add the root vegetables. Cover with the lid before returning it to the oven.
  13. Cook for an additional 45 min-1 hr.

Here on SpringForestFarm.com, Jennifer Taylor Schmidt writes beef recipes for the busy,
natural homemaker. It is possible to seek optimal health with limited time and money. Join
Jennifer in future posts as she explores the possibilities found in a 1/4 and a 1/2 beeve. You
can also find her thoughts and personal health journey on RealFoodRealHealing.com.

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