Dark, spiced, sweet but balanced, and reminiscent of Kansas City-style barbecue. This is posta negra, a pot roast from Cartagena that deserves your attention. Learn how to make it on the latest episode of Milk Street TV, where Lynn Clark shows Christopher Kimball the ins and outs of this warming, balanced dish that’s perfect for winter.
If you’ve made so many pot roasts you feel like you could cook them in your sleep and wonder what more you could do to improve upon your favorite recipe, we urge you to give this one a chance. Or, if you’re new to pot roast, this one might ruin all others in your future!
The sauce, sweet and tangy, also has a uniquely rich quality to it, and it all, ahem, boils down to a couple key ingredients. But first, some background: Cartagena is a city known for its sweet tooth. Candy, sweet cocktails and Kola Roman, a popular neon-red vanilla soda, abound. Meanwhile, an unrefined sugar called panela appears in savory dishes as well as desserts. (Here at Milk Street, we substitute brown sugar for panela to mimic the dark, caramel-like flavor.)
Though a good amount of sugar goes into the sauce for posta negra, the end result is not too sweet. Rather, it’s a balanced dish that has a lot of depth. That’s thanks to braising, but also the interesting mix of ingredients, including spices like cinnamon, allspice and cloves that flavor a braising liquid of red wine. (Yes, it’s reminiscent of mulled wine, and no, it wouldn’t hurt to have a glass on the side.)
There’s also Worcestershire sauce and prunes, which together channel the sweet and sour flavor and viscous consistency of tamarind, which is traditionally used in the dish.
Bold ingredients like this turn a straightforward braise into a memorable pot roast that comes together in just four hours, as opposed to the overnight marinating that a traditional posta negra calls for.