By Tony de Luca

The success of this pot roast depends on using a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and fresh orange juice as the cooking liquid. A pot roast can be prepared from different cuts of beef, but I like to use a chuck roast, as it seems to be more flavourful. Keep on eye on the roast during cooking. If the liquid is evaporating too quickly and the casserole is in danger of becoming too dry, add a bit of water to keep the beef moist.

Makes 6 servings

1 boneless beef chuck top blade or cross rib roast (about 3 pounds)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely diced red onions
2 tsp minced garlic
4 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dried apple slices
1 cup dried figs or pitted prunes
3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp ground allspice
1 cinnamon stick

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. In a heavy flameproof casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat and sear the beef for 2 minutes on each side or until well browned. Remove the meat from the casserole and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in the casserole over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté, stirring frequently until lightly coloured. Return the meat to the casserole and add the orange juice, Cabernet Sauvignon, stock, dried apples, figs, ginger, orange zest, allspice and cinnamon stick. Cover and bring to a simmer. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake for 2½ to 3 hours or until the beef is very tender.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef to a cutting board and the fruit to a warm bowl. Discard the cinnamon stick from the cooking juices. Put the casserole over high heat and simmer the cooking juices until they are reduced by half. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, slice the meat and arrange on a warm serving platter. Mound the fruit around the edge. Spoon the sauce over the beef and fruit.

From Simply in Season: 12 Months of Wine Country Cooking, by Tony de Luca, Whitecap Books Ltd., 2010. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.

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