Thursday, January 17, 2013

Who needs Carrabba's anyway?

As I have whined about many times before on this blog, I live in a tiny city in rural northern New York, and we don't have a lot of popular chain restaurants like one might see advertised on t.v.  So when I saw a recent commercial for the new seasonal specials at Carrabba's, including their Beef Brasato, my mouth started watering, my wheels started turning, and I headed to the kitchen to try to create something similar.

Now I am aware that the beef featured at Carraba's is short rib, and that would be just as awesome and can easily be substituted in the recipe below, but my roomie had purchased a chuck roast for us that I needed to use. Also, I threw in some potatoes to make this a one-pot meal, but you could always omit them (and chop the carrots, parnips and garlic and cook with the onions and celery), and then serve the deliciously tender meat and savory "gravy" over pasta, like the orzo in the Carrabba's special entree. This is a very versatile dish!

However you choose to make it, this turned out to be a luscious Italian spin on my regular pot roast that made me quite a bit less bitter about the paltry restaurant offerings in my little 'Burgh. Plus, it's an easy dish to make--it just takes a long braise time in the oven--and even with an expensive cut of meat, you're still big money ahead over going out to eat. This will feed four hearty eaters for less than $20--you can't even get four fast food meals for five bucks a person these days. So again I say...who needs Carrabba's?

Beef Brasato (Italian-Style Braised Beef)

4-5 lb. chuck roast
salt, pepper, granulated garlic (a teaspoon of each, more or less)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 bay leaf
4 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
2 large parsnips, scrubbed and cut into chunks
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper

Sprinkle the roast liberally with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, brown the roast on all sides in two tablespoons of the olive oil. Remove the roast and set aside. Add the onions and celery to the pan and cook for a few minutes in the rendered fat from the roast. Deglaze the pan with the red, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pot. Stir in the tomato paste, beef broth, and herbs until throughly combined. Add the roast back into the pot and turn over in the sauce. Cover and place in a 325 degree oven for about three hours or until fork tender.

About halfway through the cook time, toss the potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and garlic cloves with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the lemon pepper. Remove the roast from the oven, uncover, flip the roast, and then add the veggies to the pot, tucking them down around the edges and into the sauce. Cover and return to the oven for the remaining hour and a half until the roast and veggies are sufficiently tender.

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