Balsamic Braised Pot Roast

We're 4 weeks into our school year and it is going so well, for which I'm very grateful to God.  I am not naturally a very organized or a very disciplined person, so it takes something for me to stay on schedule with school while keeping the house in order, planning and cooking dinners, etc.  Our workload, and the amount of time I need to be actively involved in schooling (reading aloud or teaching vs. assigning an independent workbook page) has doubled or tripled this year, but the Lord is really helping me to enjoy it. Our material is so interesting.  My daughter fell in love with The Boxcar Children, the first book Sonlight had us read. In the next week she zoomed through books #2 and #3 by herself, which I picked up at a thrift store after seeing her delight in the first.  I'm so appreciating Apologia's reverent, God-centered approach to explaining the universe in our Astronomy text, and The Gospel Story Bible has already prompted so many good questions and discussions with my daughter.  Picking curriculum has been a stressfest for me each year, because there are so many options and I feel that there's so much at stake.  To say I'm relieved and thankful that everything is working out so well is quite an understatement.  Today our art curriculum suggests we go on a nature walk to find objects to draw, but I'm not sure the weather will cooperate.

The chill is setting in.  My chrysanthemums are starting to bloom, apples and squash are covering the farmer's market tables, my kids are wearing fuzzy pajamas to bed, and everyone has had their annual "ohmygoshpumpkinspicelatteeeessss" freakout.  :)  Personally, it was those apples I couldn't wait for.  Buying apples midsummer from the grocery store is just not an option for me; they are so blech.  So it's been at least 6 months since I've had a good Apple Oat Pancake and ooh, I'm excited to have some this weekend.

Smelling this post roast slowly bake to perfection last night really sealed the sense of autumn's arrival.  Pot roast isn't glamorous, but it's cozy, comforting food.  The flavor of this one is so rich and faintly sweet thanks to a cup of wine and a half cup of balsamic vinegar in the gravy.  The recipe caught my attention in this month's Taste of Home magazine because of the fresh herbs it required--sage and thyme, both of which are still growing in hearty abundance in our herb bed.  I got the whole cooking process started a little late, and sent my husband a note at work while breathing in the promising fragrance:  Dinner is going to be fabulous, but late.  Should be done at 7.  When we finally finished dinner around 7:35, the sun long gone, my husband smiled up from his clean plate and told me I was right.

Balsamic Braised Pot Roast (adapted very slightly from Taste of Home)
serves 6-8

1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 to 4 lbs.)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
4-5 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium onions, sliced
3 medium turnips, peeled and quartered
5 white potatoes, pared and quartered
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 c. dry red wine or beef broth (I used Chianti)
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) beef broth
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
4 fresh sage leaves
1/4 tsp. (heaping) celery seed
2 bay leaves

2 T. cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe casserole or dutch oven with a lid.  Season meat with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.  Remove from pan.
  2. Add carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic, and turnips to the pan.  Cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add wine, stirring to lift up stuck bits from the bottom.  Stir in broth, vinegar, and herbs. 
  4. Return meat to the pan; bring the liquid to a boil.  Cover and place in the oven.  Bake for 2.5-3 hours or until very tender (2.5 worked for me).
  5. Transfer meat and veggies to a bowl or platter.  Strain the herbs out of the gravy, then stir in a slurry of cornstarch + cold water.  Bring gravy to a boil, stirring constantly until thickened.  Serve over meat and vegetables. 


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