3½- to 5-pound boneless beef chuck or shoulder roast
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme or basil (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
2 cups stock or water (or 1 cup stock or water and 1 cup dry red or white wine)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1. Pat the roast dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 4-quart Dutch oven or roaster over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown on all sides (about 20 minutes). Remove the roast.
2. Stir in the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until soft (5 to 10 minutes). Add the desired herbs and paprika and stir briefly. If desired, stir in the tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened (2 to 3 minutes).
3. Add the wine and stock, stirring to remove any browned particles. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper. Return the beef, cover and bring to a simmer on top of the stove.
4. Place in a 350-degree oven or simmer over a low heat, turning occasionally, until fork tender (2½ to 3½ hours). (The roast may be prepared up to this point up to 2 days in advance, cooled, covered and stored in the refrigerator before reheating.)
5. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the cooking liquid, pressing the solids. Slice the meat against the grain and serve with the gravy.
Dinsztelt Marhahus (Hungarian Pot Roast): Reduce the stock to 1¼ cups and add ¾ cup tomato juice. Serve with potato dumplings or egg noodles.
Essig Fleisch (Ashkenazic Ginger Pot Roast): When the meat is tender, add 1/3 cup lemon juice, 4 crushed gingersnaps and 3 tablespoons brown sugar and cook about 10 minutes. Or after cooking the beef for 2 hours, add 1 cup raisins soaked in 1 cup wine, 3 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice or vinegar.