Archive for December, 2009

Pot Roast

We don’t eat a whole lot of meat around here, and when we do it tends to be chicken. This is partly about cost, and partly about environmental concerns, but it’s also partly due to the fact that I’m not very familiar with cooking beef. When I was cooking for my family, my mother would shop specifically for simple meals I could manage without a great deal of instruction, and generally that meant chicken casserole-ish things, or vegetarian meals, or ground beef. And now that I am on my own, non-ground beef is intimidating. There are just so many parts, and sometimes the names of the meats in Kroger don’t quite match up with the cuts the recipes tell me to buy, and each one requires a different approach to cooking it or else you end up with something gross and inedible. Chicken is so simple, and familiar, and flexible. But it’s finally gotten cold in these here parts, and I found myself craving something hearty and beefy. I looked for roast beef recipes, but they need things like “roasting pans” and “racks” and you know, things I don’t have. I do, however, have a big pot that came in a box of Ikea kitchen equipment. So, pot roast it is.

For recipes that are staples of American home cooking, I like to check Simply Recipes first. Well, I like to check Simply Recipes first a lot, but I was certain Elise would have a good pot roast recipe, and I was not disappointed.

I got a late start on it, so it’s still in the oven as I write this part of the post, but it sure smells delicious.

Ingredients

* 3 1/2 lb of beef shoulder or boneless chuck roast
* 1 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
* Salt, pepper, italian seasoning to taste
* 1 large yellow onion, chopped or sliced
* 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
* 1/2 cup of red wine
* Several carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise

Preparation

I’m just going to tell you to read the Simply Recipes post, because it’s quite thorough and helpful.

Notes

Elise’s post and the comments just about cover it, but I did cut up two parsnips and added them with the carrots. My mother’s beef stew has parsnips in it, so I associate them with comforting beef-based winter food. Her stew also has rutabega, but it’s that pungent parsnip flavor that stands out to me and that I end up craving. Alcohol is another thing my roommate and I don’t consume much, so rather than buy a whole bottle of wine just to use 1/2 a cup, I got one of the mini bottles, in this case, Barefoot Wine Merlot. It’s 3/4 of a cup instead of 1/2, but since a little extra liquid means I’m less likely to dry out the roast, I figured putting in the whole bottle was ok.

Ok, it’s now 11 pm and the meat is done. I had a bit of carrot and parsnip, and they were tasty, and the broth smells awesome. The little chunk of meat I had seemed slightly overdone, which is probably my fault. The last half hour or so I got worried that I hadn’t had enough of a simmer going in the pot, so I turned the heat up a bit. There was still more than enough liquid, so the meat isn’t dry, precisely, but the edges at least are not as tender as I’d like.

So let that be a lesson: if the liquid is just sort of quivering, that is enough. I am an impatient person, and so the concept of “longer cooking at lower temperatures” is one that takes some getting used to for me.

Still, apart from the waiting this was really easy. About the only difficult part was flipping over a giant piece of meat inside a tallish pot. Much better than crying because I managed to ruin another roux. To successfully make a roux I need not only patience but a third friggin arm.

My next big plan is to try and make shortbread cookies for the Women in Computing group’s holiday cookie exchange. I’m hoping that if I’ve got a recipe with only four ingredients, I won’t forget any of them.

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