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posted: 3/15/2011 2:04 PM

90-minute Beer-Brined Pot Roast

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cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 large bay leaf, crumbled

1 can (12 ounces) beer (an inexpensive lager is fine)

cup water


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 7-bone or other flat chuck roast (2-3 pounds), you want one with some marbling

Fresh ground black pepper

2 medium-large onions, peeled, halved and sliced thin

1 cups dry red wine

2 tablespoons unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

For the brine: To a one-gallon, zipper-locking plastic bag add kosher salt, brown sugar, black pepper, bay leaf, beer and water. Seal bag and shake until sugar and salt dissolve and the beer has lost most of its carbonation. Add pot roast, seal bag and shake it to coat the roast. Open about one-inch of the bag, press out as much air as possible and reseal. Place bag on kitchen counter for 45 minutes.

For the rest: While the roast brines, place an oven rack in the middle position and begin heating the oven to 450 degrees and slice the onions.

Remove the pot roast from the brine, discard brine and pat the roast dry with paper towels. Set a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel or porcelain-lined Dutch oven (large enough that the meat easily lays flat on the bottom) over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and when hot add the pot roast; browning top and bottom for about 5 minutes. Remove pot roast to a plate and season both sides with pepper. Add onions to the pot and saute until golden brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add wine and simmer for about 1 minute.

Return roast to the pot and turn off heat. Place a sheet of heavy-duty foil over roast (using a hot pad or oven mitt); pressing foil down until it touches the meat from edge-to-edge, letting the foil drape over the edge of the pan all the way around. Place lid snugly on pot, turn heat to medium-high and cook until you hear juices bubbling. Using oven mitts, place pot in oven and cook for 90 minutes, until roast is dark brown. Remove pot from oven and let stand (covered) for 10-15 minutes.

Carefully (steam will billow-up) remove cover and foil from pot, and then remove roast to a plate. Skim all fat from the remaining liquid's surface, place pot over medium-high heat and while heating, whisk flour into chicken broth and then add to pot stirring into the liquid. (If you're cooking vegetables on the side, this is the time to add them to the gravy to finish their cooking.)

While gravy thickens, slice the roast against the grain into slices, ladle gravy over slices and serve immediately.

Serves six.

Cook's note: The success of this method relies on two things: a Dutch oven or pot with a truly heavy bottom; and that the foil not only touches the entire pot roast's upper surface but is pressed against the pots sides and goes all the way up and over the pot's edge, so the cover makes contact with the foil all the way around that edge.

@Recipe nutrition:Nutrition values per serving (with gravy): 318 calories (23.8 percent from fat), 8.4 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 7.6 g carbohydrates, 0.9 g fiber, 41 g protein, 113 mg cholesterol, 750 mg sodium.