Mexican-Style Pot Roast

Pot roast may not be authentically Mexican but Mexican-style seasonings make a wonderful pot roast. This recipe is based very loosely on a recipe for Jalisco-style braised lamb from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2005). I say very loosely because while his recipe uses bone-in lamb and a slow cooker, I use beef eye round and a pressure cooker. But since I copied his marinade I thought it only right to acknowledge the source. (That cookbook, by the way, is an excellent resource if you like healthy, full-flavored food.) The basic technique for cooking pot roast in a pressure cooker comes from the recipe book that came with my Cuisinart CPC-600 electric pressure cooker (an appliance I heartily recommend). Incidentally, this recipe scales up nicely. Just remember to increase the cooking time as well as the amount of marinade.

Ingredients

  • 8 or so cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 3 Tbsp. chile powder (see recipe below or use commercial ancho powder)
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 cup brown stock (beef or lamb) or water
  • 1¾ pound piece of beef eye round
  • Kosher salt
  • Oil
  • 4 small red or gold potatoes, about 1 pound
  • 1 Tbsp. butter (optional)

Method

Heat a dry 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the unpeeled garlic and roast, turning frequently, until soft and blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. (They will cook faster if you put them under a weight such as another skillet or a steak press.) Set aside until cool enough to handle then peel.

Put the peeled garlic into a food processor and pulse to chop. Scrape the sides of the jar and add the chile powder, cumin, pepper, vinegar, and ½ cup of the stock. Pulse to combine then set aside.

Return the skillet to high heat. Season the meat with kosher salt. Film the pan lightly with oil and brown the meat well on all sides. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes total. Place the meat into the pressure cooker and cover with the marinade. Pour the remaining ½ cup of stock around the meat. Close the pressure cooker and set to high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally, i.e. do not vent the pressure vessel.

Scrub the potatoes and cut in 1-inch pieces. When the pressure cooker unlocks, open it and put the potatoes around the meat. Reclose and cook at high pressure for another 8 minutes. Again, let the pressure release naturally.

Remove the meat and potatoes to a platter and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into a saucepan or, as I did, the skillet I browned the meat in. Boil the liquid down over high heat until it is syrupy. Stir in the butter if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.

To serve, divide the potatoes into shallow bowls, put a generous slice of the meat on top and nap with the sauce.

Chile Powder

Heat a dry cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot put in about 1½ ounces of assorted dried chiles, I use ancho, pasilla, guajillo, morita, and árbol, 2 or 3 of each. (For a milder powder omit the morita and árbol chiles.) Toast for about 30 seconds per side until fragrant but not burned. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool a bit.  When cool enough to handle, remove the stems from the chiles and break them up into a food processor. Chop for a minute or so to a coarse powder then finish in a coffee grinder set aside for spices. You should have about ½ cup of chile powder.

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