Jul 30th, 2008 by Marilyn
We had pot roast for dinner the other night – you heard me, pot roast.
In the oven. I know, I know – it’s wacky. I hate summer heat, but don’t mind summer cooking. There’s all this anti-kitchen talk about no-cook meals and slipcovering your oven come July, but I don’t think twice about baking pies and roasting roasts. Maybe bakery work broke my personal thermometer – after a few years of convection ovens in August and short breaks in steaming alleys, your body doesn’t know if it’s inside, outside, or rising in the proofer.
When Josie was little I catered from home, often baking through the night while she slept. We had central air but the space was tiny – room for me, an oven, and a dozen hot pans. Mixing cakes alone at two a.m., I figured what the hell, and worked in my secret summer uniform – a sports bra and Gap shorts. Why not? It was just me and the cake pans and Nick at Nite, and Nick wasn’t looking. There was a big kitchen window, but not much to see: just a girl in lobster-print boxers and oven mitts, whisking and dancing to Ricky Ricardo’s drums.
Maybe all those hot kitchens fried my common sense – because if I want pot roast and it’s 97 in the shade, I’m still making the pot roast. At least this one tastes like the season – I had some lovely key limes and messed with Caribbean flavors. It seemed more…reasonable. The dish would cook for hours but it would be a tropical pot roast, right? Cuba Libres, white sands, ocean breezes?
Well…the mirage not so much, but it did taste great. The key limes really do a job on the meat; it’s a tangy, unusual roast that tastes even better the next day. We rounded dinner out with sauteed bananas and black beans with rice. I say if you can take the heat, stay in the kitchen – just long enough to squeeze limes, set a timer, slam the oven door and run.
Key Lime Pot Roast
one chuck arm roast, about 2.5 pounds
light brown sugar
salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
6-7 key limes
(if you can’t get true key limes, try adding a few dashes of red wine vinegar to regular limes)
A large Dutch-oven style pot with a tight-fitting lid works well for this recipe; you can also use a roasting pan, tightly covered with aluminum foil.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Cut and juice the limes, removing any seeds. Keep both the juice and the empty lime halves.
Rub the meat with an evenly generous amount of: brown sugar, salt, ground pepper and cayenne pepper.
Warm the pot and heat the olive oil over medium-high, just to sizzling. Add the roast and sear both sides evenly, only turning once or twice, until both sides are browned to a dark, caramelized color.
Turn off heat. Add 3 cups of water to lime juice, then pour both juice and lime halves over the meat. Sprinkle the meat generously with oregano. Cover with lid (or tightly with foil) and transfer pot to preheated oven.
Bake for approximately 3 hours. Check once or twice while cooking; if juices have completely evaporated, add 2-3 cups of water, white wine or orange juice. When meat is fork-tender, remove from oven. Discard roasted lime halves (delicious, but not easy to eat) .
Cool meat until safe to handle, then remove roast from the pan. On a cutting board, shred meat roughly with a fork. Return shredded meat to pan and spoon juices over meat; cover and return to the oven for approximately 20 more minutes, until completely tender. Remove from oven and serve, with pan juices, over rice and beans.
For even stronger flavor, I prefer making this one day ahead and letting it steep, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat and serve – or, if you’re like me, stand in the kitchen and eat it cold. It’s summer, right?