Who the hell is Dom Pedro you’re asking? And what does he have to do with pot roast? The Portuguese-born Dom Pedro I was the first ruler of the Empire of Brazil back in the 19th century. He has nothing to do with pot roast per se, but here we join together some of the best of both Portuguese and Brazilian flavors, for a winning combination. A little history—As King, Dom Pedro reigned briefly over Portugal, until their country was invaded by French troops in 1807. He and his family fled to Brazil, Portugal’s largest and wealthiest colony. Revolution broke out in Lisbon in 1820, compelling his father to return to Portugal, leaving him behind to rule Brazil, as regent. All was not wonderful…with the Brazilians being unhappy (a bit of an understatement) with insurrections, threats from revolutionaries, insubordination by Portuguese troops and finally the “Dad’s” threat to revoke Brazilian political autonomy. Discontent was rampant and when Pedro I’s father threatened to revoke Brazil’s autonomy, Pedro I chose the Brazilian side and declared Brazil’s independence from Portugal on September 7, 1822. In October, he was acclaimed Emperor of Brazil. It’s way more complicated and complex than this, but this isn’t a history blog, is it? One last thing, before we get down to “business”. Queen Maria, the first “missus” of Pedro, was very supportive of him, until he demanded that she appear with his mistress, thus giving his mistress official standing (she refused). She died shortly thereafter and he married Amélie of Leuchtenbergand. To put it mildly, this was not a happy union. She hated, despised, detested, and loathed her life in Brazil (and probably Dom Pedro!). So you understand she wasn’t a happy queen, okay? The story goes that when they finally sailed back to Portugal and “civilization” (her thoughts about Europe), she threw her shoes into the ocean, because she didn’t even want to bring the dirt on her shoes with her. You can read more juicy details here.
Now, back to the “meat” of the matter! I used the Instant Pot™ for this. For pot roast, I always use a chuck roast. It has enough fat to keep the meat moist and chuck has a great flavor. I’ll take chuck over filet mignon, any day, any time. I always bring the meat to room temperature (hamburger is the exception to this rule) before cooking. Combine the port and espresso; I warm it a bit, too. Pour it over the dried cherries and figs. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; set aside. This can be done the day before, if that works best for you. Add the olive oil to the pot/insert; brown the meat on both sides over medium-high heat. Remove and set aside.
Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan/insert; add the onion. Sauté until the onion softens and begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, spices and bay leaves; sauté for 30 seconds, just to bloom the spices. Deglaze the pan with the red wine; stir in the cocoa. Add the soaked, dried fruit, including any remaining soaking liquid, to the pot; bring to the boil. Return the meat to the pot.
- If using an Instant Pot™, place the lid on and close it completely. Close the release valve. Set the pressure for 35 minutes. When the time is up, let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes, then manually release the pressure. Remove the lid.
- If using a Dutch oven, return the meat to the pot, lower the heat and simmer gently for 2-3 hours or until for tender. Check occasionally to make certain there is enough liquid. There should always be about 1 inch of liquid in the pot.
Remove the meat from the pot/insert; set aside loosely covered. If you are thickening the liquid, restir in the slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the gently bubbling liquid until the desired thickness is attained. Do this in increments, so you don’t over-thicken. Add the hearts of palm, green olives and cilantro, if using. Cook just until heated through, 1-2 minutes.
Serve the meat sliced, with the sauce and vegetables. You may add some crumbled, cooked bacon, if desired.
Dom Pedro's Pot Roast
- 6 dried figs, stem-tip removed and halved
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1 cup ruby port, heated
- 1/4 cup (double shot) espresso (or more, if desired)
- 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Large pinch of ground cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- To finish:
- 12 ounces frozen pearl onions, unthawed
- Arrowroot or cornstarch slurry (optional)
- 1 can whole hearts of palm (rinsed and drained), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup green olives
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
Combine the dried fruit; add the warmed port and coffee. Set aside for at least 30 minutes; this can even be done the day before, covered and allowed to sit on the counter.
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat; add the oil. Add the meat to the pan and brown evenly on all sides. Remove the meat; set aside. (This can be done in an Instant Pot™, set to SAUTÉ. Brown it well on all sides.)
Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of fat; add the onion. Sauté until the onion softens and is golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, spices and bay leaves; sauté for 30 seconds, just to bloom the spices. Deglaze the pan with the red wine; stir in the cocoa. Add the soaked, dried fruit, including any remaining liquid, to the pot; bring to the boil.
Return the meat to the pot; lower the heat and simmer gently for 2-3 hours or until for tender. Check occasionally to make certain there is enough liquid. There should always be about 1 inch of liquid in the pot.
About 10 minutes before the meat is done, add the pearl onions, pushing them down into the liquid. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove the meat from the pot; set aside loosely covered. If you are thickening the liquid, gently stir into the slurry until the desired thickness is attained. Add the hearts of palm, green olives and cilantro, if using. Cook just until heated through, 1-2 minutes.
Serve the meat sliced, with the sauce and vegetables. You may add some crumbled, cooked bacon, if desired. Polenta, boiled yuca, mashed potatoes or rice are all good side options.
Dom Pedro’s Pot Roast Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved