I am simply taken with the texture and flavorful depth of honest-to-goodness American pot roast, nearly as much as
I love the Mexican flavors of roasted tomatillos, garlic and smoky chipotle chilies. In the same pot, with a
chorus of Mexican-American vegetables, the meat and sauce become a whole.
1. The salsa: For dried chilies, toast them on an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat, turning
regularly and pressing flat with a spatula, about 30 seconds. In a small bowl, cover the chilies with hot water
and let rehydrate 30 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water.
(Canned chilies need only be removed from their canning sauce.) While chilies are soaking, roast the
unpeeled garlic on the griddle or skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally until soft
(they will blacken in spots), about 15 minutes; cool and peel. Roast the tomatillos on a baking
sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until blackened on one side, about 5 minutes, then flip and roast
the other side. Scrape the tomatillos (and their juices), rehydrated or canned chilies and garlic into
food processor or blender, and process to a rather fine-textured puree. Transfer to a bowl and stir in
enough water (3 to 4 tablespoons) to give the sauce a medium consistency. Taste and season with salt and sugar.
2. The roast: In a shallow dish, smear the meat with the salsa, cover and refrigerate for several hours
(the longer the better - up to 24 hours - to infuse the meat with the smokiness). When you're ready to cook
the meat, turn on the oven to 325 degrees. Scrape as much salsa as possible off the meat and reserve.
Dry the meat on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Heat the oil in a heavy, medium-size (4 quart) pot,
(preferably a Dutch oven) over medium-high; when hot, add the roast and brown on one side about 5 minutes,
then flip and brown the other side. Remove the roast to a plate; pour 1 cup of water into the pot and boil
over medium, scraping up the browned bits. Stir in the reserved salsa, then return the roast to the pan.
Cover tightly and bake for two hours, until the meat is just tender. Distribute the vegetables around the
meat, stir to coat them with the pan juices, cover and continue cooking until the meat and vegetables are
tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
3. Serving: Use two large metal spatulas (or meat forks) to transfer the roast to a large, warm serving
platter. Scoop out the vegetables with a slotted spoon and distribute them around the meat. Skim off the
fat from pan juices, and if necessary, boil them to reduce until lightly thickened; there should be about a
cup. Taste and season with salt if necessary, then splash the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
Sprinkle with cilantro and coarse salt.
The salsa (step 1) can be made a day or two ahead, as can the whole dish, though the texture of the meat
and vegetables is best right out of the oven. If done ahead, refrigerate covered, then rewarm in the oven,
adding a little water to the pan juices as they reheat if they have thickened too much.
Variations and Improvisations:
An equal-size pork shoulder roast or equal weight of chicken thighs can be substituted for the beef
(chicken and vegetables can cook together - a total of about 40 or 45 minutes). Other cuts of
beef to use include sirloin tip, rump, top round or eye of the round, almost all of which are
leaner and will need to be very tightly covered to ensure that they don't dry out.
From: Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen , by Rick Bayless
Post Date: 12/15/99
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