For a taste of 1890s New York without a time machine, purchase a ticket for tomorrow night’s 7:00 p.m. Dinner & a Movie at O, Cinema featuring the Carnegie Hall apartments documentary, Lost Bohemia, and feast on Harry’s Pizzeria chef de cuisine Manny Sulbaran’s dishes inspired by the cuisine of the era. Served buffet style, the menu includes Smoked Fish Dip & Chips and Iceberg Lettuce with pickled red onion, watermelon & blue ranch dressing; Pot Roast & Gravy with Goat Cheese & Scallion Mashed Potatoes; and Hedy Goldsmith’s Angel Food Cake with mango jam and a snack of spiced popcorn.
According to John Mariani in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, pot roast is meat that is browned and cooked with vegetables and gravy in a deep pot or saucepan, usually covered. The term dates in print to 1881. Pot roast was once an appetizing way to cook beef from beasts that have been working animals rather than food animals or other inferior cuts of meat. Today, the availability of good beef makes pot roast a delicious hearty dish, though lesser cuts of meat are still used for the cooking. Beef brisket, bottom and top round, and chuck are the usual choices.
With Manny’s recipe below there is no reason not to give your dormant turn-of-the-century cooking skills a whirl and invite some people over to enjoy the result. That’s what we’re doing tomorrow night at O, Cinema, so try it out without lifting a finger in the kitchen first!
Old School New York Pot Roast & Gravy
1/2 eye-of-round roast, about 5 pounds
1 tablespoon chopped oregano
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped marjoram
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1 pound medium yellow onions, quartered
1 pound carrots, chopped into large chunks
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 cup juicy red wine
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pat the roast dry and rub with herbs, salt, and pepper. Place in a bowl and let sit to marinate covered for 2 hours at room temperature.
Add oil to a Dutch oven over high heat, and once smoking hot, add the roast and sear to caramelize, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Carefully remove the meat and set aside. Still over high heat, add the onions and carrots, season with salt and pepper, and deglaze with the wine. Add a 1/2 cup of water and place the meat back in the oven. Cover and cook on the stovetop over low heat until fork tender, about 3 hours.
Remove the meat and let rest on a cutting board while you prepare the gravy. Strain the vegetables from the cooking liquid and set aside. Place the Dutch oven back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the butter and flour to make a dark rue by stirring vigorously, being careful not to burn. When a light brown paste is formed add back the cooking liquid, stirring until smooth and simmer to thicken, about 10 minutes.
Carve your roast, and serve family-style with vegetables and gravy!