It's been harder and harder to find the time to post these days with the little one napping less and less and playing more and more. Here's an easy recipe for a fragrant, delicious pot roast from my friend Stacie that, I promise you, will make up for my absence. It can be served over noodles or rice, in a sandwich, or simply along-side a loaf of crusty bread and butter. It's also a great recipe for the summer because it makes a lot and the crockpot won't heat up your whole kitchen. Enjoy!
Crock Pot Braised Beef with Allspice and Cinnamon
* If you don't have a cock pot, see my dutch oven instructions below.
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
4 whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
3 allspice berries (or 1/4 teaspoon ground)
6 black peppercorns (or 1/2 teaspoon ground)
about 3.5 lbs beef (chuck, round, or shank/brisket) trimmed of excess fat
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 cup hearty dry wine (any red you have on-hand is fine, just use one that's drinkable)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper
In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and peppercorns to a fine powder. Just use ground spices if you don't have whole ones on hand.
Prep all your veggies and get your wine and canned tomatoes ready.
Heat some olive oil in a large sauté pan or cast iron skillet over high heat. While its heating, dry the beef well with some paper towels and salt and pepper it liberally on all sides. When the pan is smoking hot, brown each side of the beef for about 5 minutes each, so the entire surface is seared and crusty. Transfer the beef to your crock pot.
In the same pan you browned the meat in, sauté the onions over medium heat until they're lightly browned. Add in the celery, carrots and garlic and sauté for about 4 more minutes (reduce the heat if needed so you don't burn the garlic). Add in the spice mixture and sauté everything for another minute. Pour in the red wine and cook it down for about 10 minutes or so. Be sure to deglaze your pan here, aka scrape all the yummy bits up off the bottom of the pan.
Pour the contents of the pan over the meat in your crock pot. Add the crushed tomatoes a good pinch of salt to taste. The liquid should cover at least 3/4 of the meat. Add a cup or two of water if it doesn't. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, turning the meat over at the halfway point if you're around to do that. You can cut the cooking time down by a third to a half depending on the power of your crock pot by cooking it on high.
*If you are short on time, just toss the veggies, spices and crushed tomatoes into your crockpot and stir well. Brown the beef well on all sides and then nestle that in there. Deglaze the pan you cooked the beef in with the red wine and then add that to your crock pot and power it up.
Serve over pasta, creamy polenta, or with roasted potatoes. It's also amazing with just some crusty bread drizzled with olive oil or slathered with butter. A dollop of crème fraîche or a grating of hard, aged cheese like Grana Padano, Parmiggian Reggiano, or Pecorino really sends it over the edge.
*If you don't have a crock pot or prefer to use a dutch oven. Preheat your oven to 325 at the start of the recipe and set the racks so the dutch oven will sit roughly in the center of the oven. On your stovetop, heat some olive oil in the dutch oven and sear your meat then remove it to a plate. After you remove the beef, sauté the veggies and spices as described above. Add the wine, scrapping up all the good bits from the pan, then add the crushed tomatoes and season to taste. Put the meat in, again making sure it's 3/4 covered by the braising liquid (add just enough water or extra crushed tomatoes to accomplish this if it's isn't), cover and roast in your oven until the meat can be easily puled apart with a fork (about 6 hours or so).