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braising mediterranean
Balsamic-Braised Pot Roast with Tomatoes, Lemons, Raisins, and Black Olive–Pine Nut Relish Recipe-4459

Photo by: Joseph DeLeo
Comments: 0


“Pot roast” does not always have to mean beef cooked with root vegetables. The term simply refers to a tough cut of beef that is browned, then cooked in a covered pot along with enough liquid to cover it partway. So you can add ingredients to create any flavor footprint that you want.

In this Mediterranean-style pot roast, we use several acidic ingredients that contrast with and set up the rich flavor of the long-cooked beef. Lemons, balsamic vinegar, and red wine all contribute, while sweet raisins join in on the side of the beef for a complementary flavor dynamic. To top it off, there’s a fresh but earthy relish for your guests to add as they want.

To segment the lemons, peel them with a sharp knife, removing the white pith entirely. Cut between the membranes and remove each section whole, taking care to remove the seeds.

Serve this with crusty bread and a simple green salad.

Yield: Serves 8


  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil, or more if needed
  • One 4- to 5-pound boneless beef shoulder pot roast
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 large red onions, peeled and diced small
  • ¼ cup minced garlic
  • 6 plum tomatoes, cored and diced small
  • 1 cup dark raisins
  • 2 lemons, peeled, cut into segments, seeded (see headnote)
  • 1 to 2 cups beef stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For the relish:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped pitted black olives
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted in a 350°F oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh basil or parsley
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the wine, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and set aside.

3. In a 5-inch-deep Dutch oven or other large ovenproof pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Dry the meat with paper towels, then rub it all over with the salt and pepper, pressing gently to make sure they adhere. Place the roast in the pot and brown it well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. When the meat is browned, transfer it to a platter and set it aside.

4. Pour off the fat or add oil to the pot as needed so you have a total of about 2 tablespoons in the pot. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

5. Return the meat to the pot and add the tomatoes, raisins, lemons, and wine-vinegar mixture. Add enough stock so that the liquid comes about one quarter of the way up the sides of the meat (the tomatoes will quickly give off more liquid). Bring to a simmer, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Skim any scum off the surface. Cover, place in the oven, and cook until the meat is tender, 2 to 2½ hours. Begin checking for doneness after 2 hours. To check for doneness, plunge a fork straight down into the meat and try to pull the fork out. If the fork slides out easily, the meat is done; if the meat hangs on to the fork, give it more time.

6. While the meat is cooking, make the relish: In a medium bowl, combine the olives, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, and salt and pepper and mix well.

7. When the meat is done, remove it from the pot, cover it loosely with foil, and set aside. Skim the fat from the braising liquid and taste the liquid. If it needs more flavor, place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and simmer to reduce the liquid. For a thicker sauce, reduce it until it coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

8. Cut the pot roast against the grain into thick slices, spoon some of the sauce over the top, and pass the remaining sauce and the relish separately for guests to sprinkle over the beef.



When it comes to beef pot roast, there are many cuts that will do the trick. Among the best are the cuts from the chuck (the shoulder of the cow). One excellent option is the blade roast (also sometimes known as the top blade chuck roast or the 7-blade pot roast, so called because the blade bone somewhat resembled the number 7), which is among the most tender and flavorful of all chuck pot roast cuts. Another good choice is the boneless chuck shoulder roast, which is a relatively tender and very flavorful cut taken form the back of the cow’s foreleg.

But basically any cut from the chuck will make a good pot roast, so the best idea is probably to simply pick the one that is the size you are looking for. Some of the more common names used for chuck roast cuts are: arm pot roast or boneless arm shoulder roast, chuck eye or chuck eye roll, flatiron roast, cross-rib roast or shoulder clod, or just plain boneless chuck roast.

Brisket is also an excellent choice for pot roast-since it has more fat than the other pot roast cuts, it can be cooked longer without overcooking.

Another very good pot roast option is the rump roast, which comes from the round (the rear hip and leg of the cow). Other than this particular cut, though, cuts from the round tend to lack enough fat to hold up to the long, slow cooking without drying out.

© 2000 Christopher Schlesinger and John Willoughby

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving and a 4lb boneless beef shoulder.

615kcal (31%)
104mg (10%)
42mg (70%)
56mcg RAE (2%)
130mg (43%)
4048mg (169%)
6g (30%)
29g (44%)
9mg (50%)

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