This is the cooking of good quality joints of meat, poultry or game in butter on a layer of vegetables and herbs in a deep sided receptacle with a close fitting lid. Cooking takes place in an oven at a temperature of 175-80°C without coloration. During the latter stages of cooking the lid is removed in order to allow the surface of the meat to color slightly. Joints of beef, on the other hand, are quickly shallow fried to color on the outside before cooking.
Pot roasting is a moist method of cooking and the meat used must be of high quality. The loss through shrinkage is significantly less than with traditional roasting – on average 20 per cent compared with approximately 30 per cent for traditionally roasted meats. Table 15 gives the main items of meat, poultry and game suitable for pot roasting.
Makes: 10 portions. Oven temperature: 180°C.
— 1½ kg prepared meat
— 150 grams melted butter
— 200 grams sliced carrot
— 200 grams sliced onion
— 150 grams sliced celery
— 1 bay leaf
— 1 sprig thyme
— 1 parsley stalk
— 1 crushed clove garlic
— 1 liter Jus Lié
(1) Butter and season the bottom of a deep sided receptacle which is sufficiently large to afford room for basting and covering with a lid without touching the meat. (A braising pan is ideal for this purpose.)
(2) Place in the bottom of the pan the bed of root vegetables.
(3) Season the prepared meat and place on the vegetables. Coat with the melted butter.
(4) Cover with a lid and pot roast in the oven at the required temperature, basting the meat from time to time.
(5) When the meat is nearly cooked, remove the lid and allow the meat to color slightly for the last 10–20 minutes.
(6) When cooked remove the meat and keep it warm. Place the pan on top of the stove but do not allow the vegetables to color. Add the jus lié and allow to simmer until the flavor from the juices and butter has been absorbed into the sauce.
(7) Pass the sauce through a very fine conical strainer without using pressure. Reboil and skim all traces of fat and other impurities. Season to taste and correct the consistency of the gravy so that it just coats the meat.
Assessment of the completed dish
(1) The meat should be moist, succulent and full of flavor.
(2) The top surface should be an even light golden color.
(3) The sauce should be brown in color but not too dark and should have a slight tinge of tomato color. It should be light in consistency sufficient to coat the meat; mellow in flavor with the influence of the meat, vegetables and herbs; smooth in texture and slightly transparent so that the meat is clearly visible.
(4) Garnishes should be in the correct ratio for the number of portions and should be neatly and evenly prepared.
Possible problem, cause and solution:
(1) Meat is rather dry and lacks flavor:
— meat was not sufficiently basted during cooking; care must be taken to follow the correct pot roasting procedure basting from time to time to avoid these problems which cannot later be rectified.
— meat without a natural fat coating was not larded or barded; care must be taken when preparing the meat as once cooked these problems cannot be rectified.
(2) Gravy is dark and bitter:
— dish has been cooked at too high a temperature overcoloring the vegetables, especially the onions, which are susceptible to burning; care must be taken to cook the dish at the prescribed temperature to avoid burning the vegetables which will affect the gravy and cannot be rectified.
— poor quality jus lié was used; care must be taken when preparing the basic sauce as if it is overcooked, dark and bitter these characteristics will be passed on to the gravy and cannot be rectified.
For chicken the term en casserole and en cocotte imply that the chicken has been pot roasted in an earthenware dish and served in the dish in which it was cooked. Current trade practice, however, is to pot roast the chickens separately in a deep-sided receptacle with a tight fitting lid (e.g. a braising pan or deep-sided saucepan) then transfer them to earthenware dishes at the point of service.
Chickens to be pot roasted are traditionally trussed with their legs folded back along the breast, but this is only necessary if they are to be served whole to the customer; there is little point in following this procedure if the birds are to be carved into portions. Very few establishments follow this special method of trussing as it has no effect on the flavor or texture, but is needlessly time-consuming.