This is a great meat recipe that can be made a few days ahead of time. You can use a pot roast or a brisket or even a beef chuck roast. The wine and the thyme give it depth and the orange zest gives it a very fresh flavor that is a little sweet.
1 pot roast, brisket, or beef chuck roast (3 1/2 to 4 lbs.)
freshly ground black pepper
About 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped onions
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped celery
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped peeled carrots
4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 bottle (750 ml.) Merlot or other dry red wine
3 fresh thyme sprigs plus 1 tbsp. chopped leaves
2 tablespoons margarine
3/4 cup chopped shallots
2 pounds mixed mushrooms such as chanterelle, trumpet, enoki, cremini, and/or button, rinsed briefly and cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon shredded orange zest
Preheat oven to 325°. Sprinkle roast lightly with salt and pepper; coat generously with flour. Pour oil into a large (at least 6-qt.), heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, turning as needed, until browned all over, about 15 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Add chopped vegetables to pot and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add broth, wine, thyme sprigs, and beef. Cover and bring to a boil, then transfer pot to oven. Bake until beef is tender when pierced, 3 to 3 1/4 hours, turning roast over once.
Meanwhile, melt margarine in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring often, until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms are beginning to brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in thyme leaves and salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer beef to a platter; cover with foil and keep warm in a 200° oven. Pour braising liquid through a strainer into a wide frying pan. Skim off fat. Boil over high heat until reduced by about half, about 20 minutes. Stir in orange zest and salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce into a bowl.
Cut beef into 1/2-in. slices and drizzle with a little sauce. Spoon mushrooms around meat and serve with remaining sauce on the side.