Brisket, Pot Roast or Boeuf Bourguignon
My mother has made Brisket once a year for special occasions since I was young, and the smell of roasting beef has a distinct place in my memory. Loving roasted beef, but only really knowing Brisket, I set out to find three types of roasted beef to try and incorporate into my Sunday slow-cook regimen.
First, I made Brisket following the recipe my mom uses, out of The New Basics cookbook, and it is THE recipe for Brisket. For alternative beef roasts, I turned to classic cookbooks: Cook’s Illustrated New Best Recipes Cookbook for Classic Pot Roast, and Julia Child’s MTAFC for Boeuf Bourguignon (recipe links at bottom of post). Generally speaking, the breakdown between these three dishes is the cut, liquids and meat preparation; other than that, they all use a Dutch Oven, take a good few hours to cook, and you’ll need onion, garlic and carrot to get started:
The Cut: Brisket (the dish) is named after the cut of meat (Brisket), and is located between the Chuck and Shank. Pot Roast and Boeuf Bouguignon, however, typically call for a cut of Chuck, which is tougher meat.
Liquids Added: The other point of difference between these three recipes is the amount of liquids used during the roasting period in the oven. The brisket calls only for the natural juices that occur during the browning process; Pot Roast calls for added liquids (beef and chicken stock), but only two cups worth; Boeuf Bourguignon however calls for enough liquids to cover the cut and vegetables.
Preparation: Brisket is one cut of beef, boneless; Pot Roast Chuck calls for one cut of boneless beef chuck or the 7-bone (which I would highly recommend over the boneless chuck); Boeuf Bourguignon needs boneless beef cut into cubes (you can also use what the grocer calls “Stew Meat”).
Overall, the Brisket is tender but meaty, with flavors influenced by the vegetables in the pot; its taste is subtle and should always be accompanied by the gravy made from the Brisket juices. Pot Roast or Boeuf Bourguignon, however, don’t need a gravy…everything you need for flavor is in the meat. Pot Roast, because of the added liquids, is very tender, fall-off-the-bone (if you chose a 7-bone), and nearly melt in your mouth. The taste is a nice blend between the vegetables and the stock flavors. I love this recipe, and how juicy and flavorful a cut of meat can get because of this process. And now to Boeuf Bourguignon: I did not like it. Sounds crazy perhaps (I thought I was crazy as I was eating it and not liking it), but I think I prefer meat and vegetable flavors in a beef dish versus an over-stimulating aroma of red wine and beef broth. It was far more in line with a stew than roasted beef, with a very strong reduction taste.