Adapted from How to Cook Meat by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (William Morrow, 2000).
"Pot roast" does not always have to mean beef cooked with root vegetables. The term simply refers to a tough cut of beef that is browned, then cooked in a covered pot along with enough liquid to cover it partway. So you can add ingredients to create any flavor footprint that you want.
In this Mediterranean-style pot roast, we use several acidic ingredients that contrast with and set up the rich flavor of the long-cooked beef. Lemons, balsamic vinegar, and red wine all contribute, while sweet raisins join in on the side of the beef for a complementary flavor dynamic. To top it off, there's a fresh but earthy relish for your guests to add as they want.
To segment the lemons, peel them with a sharp knife, removing the white pith entirely. Cut between the membranes and remove each section whole, taking care to remove the seeds. Serve this with crusty bread, mashed potatoes, and a simple green salad.
For the Relish:
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the wine, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and set aside.
3. In a 5-inch-deep Dutch oven or other large ovenproof pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Dry the meat with paper towels, then rub it all over with the salt and pepper, pressing gently to make sure they adhere. Place the roast in the pot and brown it well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. When the meat is browned, transfer it to a platter and set it aside.
4. Pour off the fat or add oil to the pot as needed so you have a total of about 2 tablespoons in the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
5. Return the meat to the pot and add the tomatoes, raisins, lemons, and wine-vinegar mixture. Add enough stock so that the liquid comes about one-quarter of the way up the sides of the meat (the tomatoes will quickly give off more liquid). Bring to a simmer, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Skim any scum off the surface. Cover, place in the oven, and cook until the meat is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Begin checking for doneness after 2 hours. To check for doneness, plunge a fork straight down into the meat and try to pull the fork out. If the fork slides out easily, the meat is done; if the meat hangs on to the fork, give it more time.
6. While the meat is cooking, make the relish: In a medium bowl, combine the olives, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and salt and pepper, and mix well.
7. When the meat is done, remove it from the pot, cover it loosely with foil, and set aside. Skim the fat from the braising liquid and taste the liquid. If it needs more flavor, place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and simmer to reduce the liquid. For a thicker sauce, reduce it until it coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Cut the pot roast against the grain into thick slices, spoon some of the sauce over the top, and pass the remaining sauce and the relish separately for guests to sprinkle over the beef.
Other Cuts You Can Use: A well-trimmed half brisket, a rump roast, or any of the other roasts from the blade, shoulder, or arm sections of the chuck will perform very well in this recipe.