Sunday, November 8, 2009

Pot Roast

There's nothing tastier on a cold day than my Dad's pot roast, so as the weather turned cold in the last few weeks, I decided it was time for me to take a stab at making it myself. I love cooking things that fill your home with a delicious aroma, and since a pot roast has to cook for a considerable amount of time (~4-5 hours all in all), this is certainly one of those dishes. I wanted to use as many ingredients as I could, so I headed over to my Sunday farmers market (which runs a month later than usual this year, until Dec. 20th!) and got what I needed. Here's my haul...

Everything but the leeks and the butternut squash was for the pot roast. The lady at the stand I got the celery and leeks from laughed pretty hard when I presented the single stalk of celery to her. "Do you seriously expect me to charge you for that?" she asked me. "Yes!" I replied. She didn't. I hate celery, but it does fantastic things to stock, so I knew I couldn't skip that step. I happily hurried home with my haul, proud of myself for even getting the meat at the farmers market. For a few reasons, I barely eat beef these days. First of all, I've been trying to reduce my meat intake quite a bit, because nutritionally it's really not all the necessary to eat vast amounts of it, ethically, I don't want to support the beef business and on the tail end of that, out of wanting to be a healthy person, I've reduced my beef intake because of the dangers of eating beef due to horrible practices by the beef industry. More on that in another post.

It's really a shame I'm so against store bought beef too, because when I got home, it occurred to me that it was nearing 2 pm, my roast had to cook for 4 hours, and my friends were arriving for dinner in that same amount of time. The problem? I bought a nice, wholesome, grass fed chunk of beef....that was frozen solid. And I don't own a microwave. So. Kind of a silly move on my part. I had to run over to get a few more ingredients from the grocery store, and lo and behold, roasts were 'buy one get one free'. So I caved and bought the two smallest
I could find...each about 1.9 lbs. My recipe, which said served 6-8 people, called for a 3 lb roast. I now had just under 4 lbs of beef for 4 people. Oh well, I thought, I LOVE pot roast. I cooked the roast, and happily my apartment filled with the great smell of vegetable stock, followed by the even more delicious smell of beef, stock and herbs simmering. Each time I turned the roasts, the meat felt more and more tender. By the time the rest of the meal was ready, I had two deliciously tender pieces of meat as well as some tasty carrots and potatoes that had cooked with the meat for the last half hour or so. We only ended up eating one of the roasts, but I had delicious leftovers for the next week, so, whew, it wasn't a problem!

I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe for 'Simple Pot Roast', found below. Serves 6-8 people.

Ingredients: 1 boneless chuck-eye roast (~3 1/2 lbs), patted dry with paper towels
Salt and ground black pepper
2 T vegetable pil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
1 small carrot, chopped medium
1 small celery rib, chopped medium
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 t sugar
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 - 1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup dry red wine

Directions: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the roast generously with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven proof Dutch oven over medium high head, brown the roast thoroughly on all sides (8-10 minutes each), reducing the heat if the fat begins to smoke. Transfer the roast to a large plate; set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown (6-8 minutes). Add the garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and beef broths and thyme, scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Return the roast and any accumulated juices on the plate to the pot; add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the roast. Cover with a lid, bring the liquid to a simmer over medium heat, and transfer the pot to the oven. Cook, turning the roast every 30 minutes, until the roast is nearly tender and a sharp knife slips in and out of the meat with little resistance, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove the roast from the pot and tent with tinfoil. Pour the braising liquid through a mesh strainer and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the empty pot and let settle for 5 minutes; use a wide spoon to skim the fat off the surface. Return the roast to the liquid and add your desired amount of small red potatoes and carrots. For 6-8 people add about 1 1/2 lbs of each. Return the pot to the oven and cook for about 30 more minutes, until vegetables are almost tender. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the roast to a carving board; tent with foil to keep warm. Add the wine, salt and pepper to taste. Boil over high heat until the vegetables are fully tender, 5-10 minutes. Serve the meat and vegetables with sauce poured over it. Enjoy!

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