While the first tentative signs of Spring are here with the snowdrops out everywhere and the first daffodils flowering here in the mild South West of England, the current cold snap serves to remind us that Winter is not yet over.
And, in the depths of Winter, what could be better than a rich, juicy, flavoursome pot roast of our organic Red Ruby Devon beef?
In simple terms pot roasts are similar to stews or casseroles, but generally the beef is kept as a single joint rather than being cut into pieces for cooking. All of these are, of course, cooked slowly in the oven to render the meat tender and succulent.
What is really important is to ask our butchers for a piece of beef suitable for the pot roast. Joints like silverside or brisket, are perfect, but there are a number of others equally suitable. You do need to allow three hours for cooking an average sized joint.
The joint should first be seared before being put into the covered dish with chopped bacon, onions, carrots or other root vegetables. The cooking stock is really important. My preference is a mix of beef stock and real ale with bay leaves, garlic and herbs added. Through the long cooking period ensure that the stock gets richer but does not reduce too much. Add water if required. In the last half hour of cooking add button mushrooms, checking the seasoning and thickening the rich gravy if necessary.
There are so many variations to this dish. You could use a heavy red wine for the stock.
Or add Mediterranean vegetables to make a classic Boeuf en Daube.
Served with baked potatoes and kale or Savoy cabbage, this dish is a real winter favourite!