Pot Roast with Cipollini and Fennel ~ a fragrant fall and winter family meal that cooks low and slow in the oven and fills the house with wonderful aroma!
WHAT ARE CIPOLLINI ONIONS?
Cipollini (chip-oh-LEE-nee, or ‘little onion’ in Italian) are in season right now. I just saw a beautiful bin of them at my market the other day. They’re a small variety with a squat shape and a glossy white, very thin, skin. The flavor is super sweet and mild, and they’re perfect for stews and pot roasts like this one.
HOW TO PEEL CIPOLLINI ONIONS
As I was paying for my onions I wondered aloud if it could possibly be worth the trouble to peel them and the checkout woman told me about two methods…one is to put the onions in the freezer for 20 minutes before peeling, and the other is to blanch them in boiling water for 15 or 30 seconds and then plunge them in ice water. Supposedly the skins will slide right off.
I tried both ways. The result: the freezer method is a bust, but the boiling/ice water does the trick! The skin slid right off as promised. I’m so happy to know this, because these onions are great roasted, and I’m already devising future plans for the little guys.
My chuck roast is almost 2 1/2 pounds. That will feed the two of us with leftovers for tomorrow. I’m going to add the vegetables for the last 2 hours of cooking so they don’t get too soft, and I’m going to roast everything at 325. I’m also going to make the broth into a gravy.
I vividly remember my mother browning meat. I can remember standing way back from the stove in awe of her as she stood over the sputtering pot of meat and Crisco. It made a great racket, a huge mess, and a smell that permeated every corner of the house ~ yum!
Great Island kitchen recommends: enameled cast iron dutch oven
Talk about a workhorse ~ an enameled cast iron Dutch oven is an essential, if you could only have one pot; it would be this one. It’s heavy (cooks evenly,) enameled (food doesn’t stick,) large (it can handle your biggest roast,) and gorgeous (I leave mine out on the stove!)
Pot Roast with Cipollini and Fennel
- tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 2 1/2 lb. boneless beef chuck roast
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups 3/4 lb. cipollini onions, peeled
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
- 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 cup dry sherry
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 4 tbsp flour
- Set oven to 325F
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot. Salt and pepper the meat, and brown it for about 2 or 3 minutes on each of the 6 sides. Then add in the sherry, broth, herbs, and garlic. Cover the pan and put in the oven.
- Peel the onions, peel and chop the carrots into large chunks, and trim and chop the fennel bulb into slices. After the meat has roasted for about 3 hours, take the meat out of the pan and put all of the veggies in. Then set the meat on top, cover and continue roasting for 1–1 1/2 more hours.
- When the meat is done, take everything out of the pan and set the pan on the stove on low to medium heat. Add in 4 tbsp of flour mixed with 1/2 cup of water or stock, or if you have Wondra flour, just whisk it in. Stir until the gravy thickens. Taste for seasoning, and add in salt and pepper as needed. Slice the meat, and serve with the vegetables on the side (I like to include egg noodles as well), with gravy over all.
- Note: Use a gluten free flour or thickener if you like.