This recipe is adapted from James Peterson's "Essentials of Cooking." Choose a thick roast that fits snugly in a Dutch oven.
1 (4- to 5-pound) chuck roast, at least 6 inches thick
2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
1 rib celery, roughly chopped
4 cups dry, fruity red wine (e.g., zinfandel, Merlot, syrah)
Bouquet garni (see note)
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped neatly into 3/4-inch cubes
1/2 pound (1/2 package) frozen pearl onions
1. Place meat in a large heavy-duty, resealable plastic bag along with chopped onions, carrot and celery. Pour wine over everything, press out as much air as possible and place in a bowl. Refrigerate overnight. (If you wake up in the middle of the night, turn the bag over.)
2. Remove meat from marinade, picking off all the vegetables adhering to it. Strain marinade, separating the chopped vegetables from wine.
3. Pour a thin layer of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven large enough to accommodate the meat. Wipe meat dry, then sprinkle liberally with salt. Over high heat, brown meat on all sides. Remove and set aside. Pour out oil and wipe pan clean. Add new oil and chopped onions, carrots and celery from marinade plus a big pinch of salt. Over medium-high heat, cover pan and cook until vegetables give up most of their moisture, about 10 minutes, then uncover and, stirring occasionally, saute until they are soft and starting to color. Return meat to pan and pour wine marinade over it. Add enough water so liquid comes halfway up meat. Add bouquet garni and a good grinding of pepper.
4. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. On stove top bring liquid to a simmer. Cut a piece of parchment paper to cover the meat (its edges will be in the liquid) to keep the meat moist. Place pot in oven and bake until a metal skewer slides easily into meat, anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, depending on the thickness of the meat. You want the liquid in the pan to be simmering as slowly as possible - just an occasional bubble.
5. Take meat out of pot and cover with foil. Strain liquid and discard expired vegetables. Let liquid stand for a few minutes until fat rises to the top. Skim off fat. Wipe pot clean and add liquid back to it. Add meat back, along with the neatly chopped carrots and pearl onions. Cover and simmer slowly, basting every few minutes, for 30 minutes. Now remove lid and continue to cook, basting frequently, until roast is covered with shiny glaze and liquid is slightly syrupy. Makes 8 servings. Note: To make a bouquet garni, gather a few sprigs of parsley, a few sprigs of thyme and a bay leaf. Tie together with kitchen twine, or place in a metal tea ball.