Pot roast is such a comforting, all-American dish; you almost don’t want to mess with it.
When you add North African ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, cumin and coriander, along with pomegranate juice (for a little sweetness), you end up with something new, a bit exotic, and altogether fantastic!
As the cold weather wears on, we want comforting, cozy meals but we also want to mix things up a bit so we don’t get bored. Here’s a chance to do that.
Slow braising, like we're doing for this pot roast, means cooking foods in a small amount of liquid in a pot at a steady, moderate temperature. This transforms tough cuts of beef, like chuck or brisket, into something so tender you can pull it apart with a fork.
Low and steady heat breaks down the collagen (the connective tissue that holds the muscle fibers in meat together) and allows the meat fibers to soften and separate more easily.
The sauce resulting from this process won't be thick, but it will be full of flavor. Serve the pot roast with couscous, and then spoon this broth over top so the meat. Let the meat and couscous soak up every drop of that the soupy goodness!
Tips for Success
Don't worry if your meat still seems tough partway through cooking. It takes time for the collagen to break down and for the meat to become tender. When done, it should easily pull apart with a fork – cook it a little longer if you need to. The extra time won't hurt!
Pot Roast with North African Spices
- For the spice mix
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons crushed coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (to taste) crushed red pepper flakes (or if available, Marash or Aleppo pepper*)
- For the beef
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (3-pound or 1.35 kg) beef chuck roast
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 3 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup (235 ml) water
- 1 cup (235 ml) pomegranate juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup loosely-packed chopped fresh parsley
- For serving (optional)
- Glazed carrots
- *Aleppo pepper from Syria is bright red, slightly chocolaty, fruity, and medium hot. Maras pepper is from Turkey and is slightly hotter than Aleppo, yet still mild, with smokey overtones. Both are a fun addition to your spice cabinet. Sprinkle the deep red flakes on hummus, or perk up roasted vegetables with them. Look for the pepper in specialty food shops or Middle Eastern grocery stores.
Make the spice mix:
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and pepper.
Heat the oven:
Set an oven rack near the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325oF (or 160°C).
Season and sear the meat, then add vegetables, spices:
Sprinkle the roast all over with salt and pepper.
In a large Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot with a lid, heat the oil. Add the beef and brown it on all sides, about 4 minutes per side.
Add the onion, carrots and bay leaves to the pot. Stir in the spice mix.
Braise the meat:
Add the water and pomegranate juice to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and place in a 325°F (or 160°C) oven for 2 1/2 hours, turning once halfway through the cooking time.
When the meat is fork tender, remove it from the oven. (If it is not tender enough, leave it in a little longer.)
If serving with couscous and glazed carrots:
prepare these when the pot roast is close to being done.
Finish the sauce:
Transfer the meat to a platter and cover loosely with foil.
Set a strainer over a bowl and pour the sauce through. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and skim off the fat from the liquid. Add the lemon juice and taste. Add more salt and pepper, if you like.
Serve the pot roast:
Slice the meat and serve in shallow bowls on top of the couscous and carrots. Ladle the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with parsley.