This past Monday I had off from work for Columbus Day. It's one of those holidays that most people don't really seem to get off work for, so if your workplace happens to observe it there's this amazing feeling of playing hooky, although it's totally legit. Then I found out my evening class was canceled! It was a Columbus Day miracle! A whole day and night, stretching out in front of me! I was delirious with this magical gift of time and decided I should cook something special for dinner. Something that would just get more and more delicious the longer it cooked, thereby taking advantage of all this time. But it needed to be something totally hands-off, so that I could get all my studying done and (very important) play with the dogs. Voila: Columbus Day pot roast. I figure the fennel, tomato paste and red wine make it Italian. This is a great candidate for those with slow cookers, although I made mine in my dutch oven.After prepping up your vegetables (I used 1 onion, 3 small carrot, 3 small celery, 1/2 fennel bulb, all chopped to roughly the same size), get 2 tablespoons of olive oil hot over medium-high on the stovetop and brown some pot roast beef--this piece was 1.65 lbs.Be sure to salt and pepper both sides--turn it over after a couple minutes to brown the other side as well.Remove the beef and set aside. In the same pot, add in your vegetables and cook until softened and lightly colored.
Clear a space in the center and add 1 small can tomato paste and brown it slightly to get the metallic taste off.Then add some wine! I used about 1/2 cup.Mix everything up--you'll have a nice, chunky sauce going. This will completely fall apart as it slow cooks in the oven.Return your browned beef to the pot and add at least 10 whole garlic cloves.Cover the pot, stick it in the oven at 250 degrees...and just walk away from it to do other things with your amazing, incredible free time. Come back every now and then to peek in and see how yummy it looks. You don't even need to stir it but you might want to just for funsies. I cooked mine for at least 5 hours, simply because I could. It's probably good sooner than that. The equation is simply low heat + long time = amazing pot roast. Here it is right before I sliced it up--no, it doesn't look particularly glamourous, but hey--it's pot roast.I served it over horseradish mashed potatoes, with some of that incredible slow-cooked sauce spooned over the top.