Cook: Pot roast and pie in honor of Mom

This is the month of Cheshvan, when we celebrate the anniversary of the matriarch Rachel’s passing. This year it falls on Oct. 27, a day that is also celebrated as Jewish Mother’s Day.

That has me thinking about my own mother and how she nourished me in and out of the kitchen. Mom was a fearless kitchen experimenter, but I think I most associate her with two classics — pot roast and apple pie.

Mom’s pot roast technique evolved through the years, so a special thank you to my sisters for helping me re-create it. Like all pot roast recipes, it tastes even better the next day.

Apple pie probably was Mom’s number-one dessert and snack choice. I’ve turned her favorite into hand pies. Mom especially enjoyed her pie served heated with cheddar cheese. To add the tang and gooeyness she loved, include 1⁄2 cup cheddar cheese cut into half-inch cubes in the apple filling mix.


Red Wine Pot Roast

Serves 8-10

3-4 lb. boneless beef chuck roast

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 Tbs. plus 1 Tbs. oil

2 cups chopped onion

2 tsp. finely chopped garlic

2 cups red wine

1⁄4 cup apple juice

about 1 cup water

1⁄2 tsp. dried oregano

1⁄4 tsp. dried rosemary

1⁄2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 11⁄2-inch chunks

3-4 cups new potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups sliced mushrooms

Brush meat with soy sauce and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown meat on both sides (cut meat in two and work in batches if necessary). Remove meat and set aside.

Add remaining oil. Add onion, sauté until softened, stirring up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Return meat and accumulated juices to pan. Add wine, juice and water until liquid comes to about the midpoint of the chuck roast’s thickness. (Add more water if needed while meat cooks.)

Add oregano and rosemary. Bring to a simmer. Add carrots. Cover and reduce heat to keep at simmer, turning meat every 20 minutes. Cook for 1 hour.

Add potatoes. Cover and simmer 1 hour, turning meat every 20 minutes. Add mushrooms. Cover and simmer until meat is fork tender and vegetables cooked, about 1 hour, turning meat every 20 minutes (timing will vary).

Remove solids. Slice meat thinly against the grain or shred. Reduce cooking liquid if desired. Serve with cooking liquid. If made ahead, reheat vegetables and meat in cooking liquid.


Apple Hand Pies

Makes 4

oil or spray oil

2 cups of 1⁄4-inch apple pieces

1 Tbs. lemon juice

1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1⁄2 cup sugar

1 Tbs. flour plus extra as needed

1 Tbs. margarine or butter, chopped into small bits

2 ready-to-use pie crusts or 1 lb. pie dough at room temperature

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease baking tray with oil. Mix apples, juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, flour and margarine. Open or flatten prepared crusts (or roll out pie dough into two 11-inch circles about 1⁄8-inch thick) on lightly floured surface.

Cut each circle in half vertically, place a quarter of the filling in the top half of each semicircle, and fold remaining dough over filling to form a triangle with one rounded side, pressing edges together. Roll edge over itself, press down and crimp with fork. Prick tops of pies.

Bake on prepared pan about 25 minutes until light brown. Cool on rack.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at Contact her at

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at