This dish is so well loved, it vies with dishes like bouillabaisse, tarte Tatin, roast chicken, and veal stew as a favorite in the annals of French cooking. It is a homey dish, the kind served to family or on the menu in a café or bistro. For a wonderful Sunday night supper, serve with freshly cooked pasta. Note that this dish cooks for about three hours, beginning on the stovetop and finishing in the oven.
1 (2 1/2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
3 cups thinly sliced onion
4 cups warm water
2 rosemary sprigs
20 thyme sprigs
1 sage sprig
3 bay leaves
1 pound baby carrots
2 cups pitted dried plums
Sage leaves (optional)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Tie the roast at 2-inch intervals with twine; rub with salt and pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add roast; cook 12 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove roast from pan. Add onion and water to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return meat to pan.
Place rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaves on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer. Bake, covered, at 350° for 1 1/2 hours. Turn roast; bake, covered, an additional 45 minutes. Add carrots and dried plums; bake, covered, an additional 45 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Place roast, carrots, and dried plums on platter; keep warm. Reserve cooking liquid. Discard bag.
Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measure. Pour reserved cooking liquid into bag; let stand 2 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into measuring cup, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Slice roast; garnish with sage leaves, if desired. Serve with carrot mixture and sauce.
The prunes are a wonderful addition to this simple recipe. I also used 3 cups beef stock (omitting the added salt during cooking), 1/2 cup shiraz, and 1/2 cup water. I would NOT cook this lovely meat in 4 cups of water. Especially good with mashed potatoes, though pasta is nice also. Some chopped parsley added at serving brightens the appearance and flavor as well.
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