Zinfandel Pot Roast with Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

Pot roast is one of those iconic American dishes that conjures up images of Sunday dinners, kids with neatly combed hair, and platters of green beans and mashed potatoes passed happily around the table. Like most cultural ideals, pot roast seems like it should be easy to achieve, reaching perfection every time. You just throw a hunk of beef in a pan, glug in a bit of wine, and throw it in the oven to simmer for hours while you play parcheesi with the kids. Right?

Not quite. For some reason, the simple dishes that I expect to be able to make with my eyes closed, the recipes that should be in my red-blooded American DNA, are often the most challenging. Perhaps it is the expectation of success that leads me to lose focus. Unlike cheesecakes, or potstickers, or homemade baguettes, which cause me to roll up my sleeves, put on my game face, and call in the reinforcements (Mr. B); pot roasts bring out a laissez-faire attitude of ‘easy’ that never ends well. After several disappointing bouts of ‘winging it’, resulting in dry, under seasoned, and frankly boring pot roasts, I finally decided to turn on my brain and look to the expert in all things braised, Molly Stevens.

Making Zinfandel Pot Roast with Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

I have mentioned All About Braising before. It is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Molly brings exacting detail and clear processes to the art of braising- always with spectacular results. Following her instructions for a Zinfandel Pot Roast is akin to finding a short-cut home after driving the same route for many years. It is so new, so easy, and it has been here all along! Her pot roast fills the house with warm beefy aromas during a lazy afternoon. The flavors are superb, fancy enough to share with company yet familiar enough to enjoy with close friends. Moist, fork tender, and perfectly paired with glazed carrots and parsnips, this recipe will quickly become your favorite route to a perfect Sunday dinner. Now, if only I knew how to play parcheesi…

Zinfandel Pot Roast with Glazed Carrots and Parsnips (Printable Recipe)
Adapted From: All About Braising by Molly Stevens
Serves 6-8


1 boneless beef chuck (about 3½ pounds), tied with kitchen string
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 piece celery, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cup Zinfandel or other robust dry red wine
1 cup beef, veal or chicken broth
3 large 3-to-4-inch leafy fresh sage sprigs
2 to 3 leafy Italian parsley sprigs
8 to 10 black peppercorns

Parchment paper, cut to match the diameter of the dutch oven, with 2″ extra around the edges.

Glazed carrots and Parsnips (Recipe Below)

Brown the meat
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the bottom third. Season beef on all sides with salt and pepper. Place a large Dutch oven or other heavy 5-quart pot over medium heat, add oil. When the oil is hot, add beef and brown on all sides, turning with tongs, about 18 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove beef and set it aside on a large plate to catch juices. If there are any large charred bits in the pan, remove them with a damp paper towel or the tongs. Do not remove the ‘fond’ or layer of small bits stuck to the b
ottom of the pan.

Cook the Aromatics and Braising Liquid
Return the pot to medium-high heat and add onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release caramelized juices. Increase the heat to high, and boil the liquid to reduce it by about a third, about 6 minutes. Add broth, return liquid to a boil and cook until again reduced by about a third, another 5 minutes. Next, return the beef to the pot and add sage, parsley and peppercorns. Cover the pan with a piece of parchment paper that is slightly larger than the top of the pan, pressing down so it nearly touches the meat and the edges of the paper overhang the pot by about an inch. Set lid in place, securing the parchment paper.

Transfer the pot to the rack in the oven and braise, maintaining a gentle simmer. After about 15 minutes raise the lid and check that the liquid isn’t simmering too vigorously. If the liquid is bubbling too hard, lower the heat by 10 to 15 degrees. Turn the beef roast once halfway through braising, cooking for at least 3 hours or until fork tender. (Be careful when opening lid to turn meat — the steam is very hot.)

Finish the Roast
Remove the pot from oven. Carefully lift beef out with tongs, set it on a carving surface and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing down on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Let braising liquid sit for a few minutes to cool slightly, then spoon off fat with a large spoon. Set aside ½ cup braising liquid for cooking the Glazed Parsnips and Carrots.

Make the Sauce
Heat the remaining reserved cooking liquid over medium-high heat. Boil the liquid for a couple of minutes to concentrate the flavor. (The juices will not be thick.) Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Remove strings from roast and cut meat across the grain into thick slices. Serve with vegetables and juices on the side.

Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

¾ pound carrots, peeled
¾ pound parsnips, peeled
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup braising liquid from Zinfandel Pot Roast (above)
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 Tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

While the beef roast is braising, cut the carrots and parsnips into sticks by first cutting crosswise in half. Cut thicker tops lengthwise into quarters and thinner tips in half, then cut into sticks about 3 inches by ½ inch. Set aside.

When the beef roast is finished cooking, and is resting covered on a cutting board, cook the carrots and parsnips.

Place a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter to the pan. When hot, add the carrots and parsnips and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are lightly glazed and browned in spots. Add reserved ½ cup braising liquid to the pan. Reduce heat and simmer partially covered 6 to 8 minutes or until the vegetables are fork tender but not mushy. Remove the lid and bring the liquid back to a boil. Add the vinegar, sugar, sage and parsley. Cook about 1 minute or until liquid is reduced to a glaze. Serve immediately alongside slices of the beef roast and sauce.
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