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Craving sauerbrauten but not having planned ahead for a long marinade time (or really wanting the spices), I remembered an old recipe I clipped from the newspaper and served to my then new friend, Retrogrouch, fifteen years ago.  I’m sure I’ve made it in the years since, but I only recall that one time, the first time I made dinner for him.  The original recipe was, if I recall correctly, something the White House chef made for the Clintons.  Take that as you will.  It’s delicious; with a deep lemony flavor to the gravy, and as toothsome and homey as the best roast can be. I’ve made it easier and pumped up the lemon flavor a bit with zest.

We served the Painted Hills beef with a medley of roasted root vegetables from Open Oak Farm: turnip, parsnip, rutabaga, and ‘Oregon Homestead’ sweet meat squash.  I thought the squash worked best of all with its clean, sweet flavor that married well with the lemon.  What didn’t work so well was my old standby, gremolata, the parsley-lemon zest-garlic chopped garnish that usually brightens up a roast.  With all the lemon in the sauce, the gremolata just seemed harsh and over the top.  Do, however, sprinkle a little parsley on top of the meat before serving for color.  Roasts are notoriously hard to photograph — hope this looks appealing!

Don’t forget that roasts taste better the next day, if you can hold off that long.

Lemon Pot Roast

  • 3-4 lb. beef chuck roast
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, chopped finely
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion or leeks
  • one garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 t. fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Heat vegetable oil and butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Brown the roast until it is a rich mahogany color, including the sides, if you can.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.

Add the lemon zest, juice, onion, garlic, and thyme with a few grindings of pepper and salt.  Place the lid on the dutch oven and let roast braise in the oven for 2 hours.  The liquid should increase as the roast cooks, but add a little water or room temperature white wine if you must to prevent scorching the pan.  The roast is ready when it is fork tender — that is, you’ll be able to pull it apart with a fork easily.

Remove the roast from the pot and let cool for 20 minutes or so, until it firms up enough to slice.  Adjust seasonings for gravy.  Remove fat from gravy using a flat spoon, gravy defatter, or other method.  To slice the roast: I usually slice thinly against the grain and slide the slices back in the gravy, then reheat when necessary.  You may also choose to let cool, then refrigerate the whole roast and gravy, scoop off the fat layer, and slice the roast when it’s cold.  Slicing is much easier when it’s cold.

Enjoy with roasted potatoes or winter squash.

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