Pot Roast Wars

My children have always been very different from one another. One is Mr. Social, happiest when with a crowd of friends; the other is perfectly content to spend the day alone with a book–and Facebook. To my daughter, schoolwork has always come too easily; my son does well in school but works hard for his grades. As a kindergartner, he proudly wore the title “Class Clown,” the other one is known for her perfect attendance record. When it comes to dinner, the dichotomies continue: one likes tacos, the other burritos (beans, cheese, sour cream ONLY). One likes sausage and peppers, the other fettucine alfredo. You can generally find me preparing a minimum of two options nightly, although they do agree that macaroni and cheese is only acceptable in two versions: Kraft macaroni and cheese and homemade (I’ll post this recipe soon).

Where it really gets ugly is the subject of pot roast. Chuck roast or brisket: which is better? I’ll let you decide.

Gabe’s Pot roast 

Ingredients
3-4 pound chuck roast
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 garlic cloves, mashed slightly with the flat of a knife
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 can tomatoes, chopped, with their juice (Luigi Vitelli is my favorite)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or ready the slow cooker.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and salt and pepper on all sides. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole. Brown the meat on all sides, about 7 minutes total. Remove the meat from the pan and put in the upturned pot lid. Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot. Add the bay leaves paprika and cook until the vegetables soften and brown slightly. Add the tomatoes and heat through. Push the vegetables aside and place the meat in the casserole–or add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook in the oven for 3 hours; in the slow cooker for at least 7 (overnight is great). Before serving, salt and pepper to taste. Serves four amply, with plenty of leftovers.

Miriam’s Brisket

Ingredients
4-pound flat-cut brisket
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, cut in half and sliced into half moons
4-5 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups dry red wine

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Put the salt and paprika (both types) in a small bowl and combine. Rub the mixture into the meat, covering all surfaces.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet or oven-proof casserole large enough to hold the piece of meat flat (if necessary, you can cut the brisket in half crosswise). Brown the meat on both sides (about 3-4 minutes each). Remove to a roasting pan or casserole large enough to hold the meat. Add the onions, carrots, and garlic to the skillet, and cook until softened and browned slightly. Add the tomato paste and wine and cook for 5 minutes more. Pour the wine and vegetables over the meat in the roasting pan. Add a little water, if necessary. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid or foil. Bake for 3 hours.

Let the brisket cool a bit before refrigerating overnight. When ready to serve, remove the coagulated fat from the surface of the sauce. Remove the meat to a cutting board and cut excess fat. Slice across the grain into 1/8 inch slices. If you like, you can put the vegetables and sauce through the fine disk on a food mill, then through a fine-mesh strainer (for smooth gravy). Place the meat slices, overlapping slightly, in the casserole, and cover with the strained gravy. Cover with foil and heat in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Serves four amply, with plenty of leftovers.

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