Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No Ordinary Pot Roast

(playing catch up!)

Ahhhh, pot roast, what can I say?  I have never really like it due mainly to the fact that I do not really like beef enough to want to eat it.  Growing up we had pot roast a few times, and I can remember not being to keen on it because it was always so basic: salt, pepper, onions.  Living on my own has expanded my mind in regards to herbs, spices, veggies, meats, etc...  I found out that I crave seasonings and herbs rather than the regular salt and pepper; additionally, I don't want just plain salt or plain ole pepper.  I like kosher salts, sea salts or flavored salts and all kinds of whole peppercorns and mixes to freshly crack on   my own: the spicier, the better!

After 20+ years of cooking, learning, researching and tasting, I decided it was time for me to come up with the ultimate pot roast experience.  I crave juicy, tender meat with earthy and slightly sweet flavors and a nice sauce; this is what I came up with (let me add that a Dutch oven is the best creation on the face of the planet for this):

2-1/2 lb pot roast
3 carrots, peeled & quartered
3 leeks, sliced
1 onion, halved & sliced
8 garlic cloves
2 shallots, sliced
½ lb baby Yukon potatoes, quartered
¾ cup red wine
2 cups water
2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
2 bay leaves
2 tsp chopped rosemary
Kosher Salt & fresh cracked pepper (enough to sprinkle all over the meat)


First, let's talk about stock:  I opted to use my Better Than Bouillon beef base because I feel it has a richer flavor profile which I was thinking would help pull my pot roast together (and I was right).

When dealing with leeks, know that they are filled with dirt and grit so after you slice them, throw them into a colander sitting in a bowl and fill with water.  Run your hand a few times through the leeks, and leave them while you prep your veggies.

Chop and prep your veggies.

Pull the colander out of the water; you will notice all the dirt has settled in the bowl below. (dirt in bowl good, not in food, lol)

Pat the roast dry with paper towels.  Cut several pockets into the roast (stab it, lol) and put a garlic clove in each pocket.

Use a thick-bottomed, oven-proof covered pot, such as a dutch oven, just large enough to hold roast and vegetables. Heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium high heat (hot enough to sear the meat). Sprinkle and rub salt, pepper, and rosemary all over the meat. Brown roast in pot, all over, several minutes on each side. Don't move the roast while a side is browning, or it won't brown well.

When roast is browned, remove from pan and set on a plate. Add the onions, leeks, shallots & carrots to the pan and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, until they begin to brown.  

Add the potatoes, red wine, beef base & water; stir well to combine.  Add the bay leaves.  Set the roast on top of the veggies.  Cover. 

Bring to simmer and then adjust the heat down to the lowest heat possible to maintain a low simmer when covered, then put in the oven: start the temp at 300°F for 15 minutes, then drop it to 225°F.

Cook for 4 to 4-1/2 hours, or longer, until meat is tender. 

***NOTE***  to thicken up the sauce a bit, take equal parts of cornstarch to equal parts of cold water; dissolve well, and mix into the liquid.  Simmer on the stovetop about 2-3 min for the activate the thickening agent in the cornstarch.  I would suggest to start with 1 tsp first and add more later to achieve your desired consistency.

The pot roast was an utter success: the mean totally fell apart and was so incredibly tender and juicy.  It had such an amazing flavor, and the sauce was perfect over the meat.  I think we ate this for 3 days, and it was even better (if you can believe that) the second time around.

I served this with peas, but it will go good with rice or a nice salad as well.

Ok, I am proud to have finally gotten my blog caught up; I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Until next time, Happy Eating!

Why Order Takeout, When You Can Make It At Home In Under 15 Min!

As luck would have it, I have unintentionally neglected my blog.  My life gets a bit turned around when Chris is back home as spending time with one another is crucial since we never know where the next job will take him and for how long.  THEN there's that God-awful incident from which I am STILL recovering from, the dreaded flu.  It will have been 2 weeks this Friday; thankfully, I am 99% better but still have lingering issues with my voice and a very light, occasional productive cough.  

I do have another recipe to post that I made a few weeks ago, just before I fell ill, that I will try to post up by this weekend.  Blog, I am sorry for my neglect; please forgive me! LOL

OMG, let me tell all of you that for the first time since I have lived on my own (nearly 15 yrs now), I have NEVER EVER not had chicken or seafood in my freezer.  For those who know me well, I am not, nor have I EVER been a really big beef eater.  That day has now arrived:  our freezer is completely overloaded with C-O-W!  Seriously. I can't believe I have no chicken, seafood, lamb or pork in there at all.  How did this happen?  I know how:  we got a really fantastic deal on what the guy liked to refer to as "cow in a box".  In this box, we got 8-10 Kansas City Strip steaks, 8-10 ribeyes, 18 hamburger steaks (patties) and 8 peppered beef tenderloins.  We bought this a few months ago because the meat is good for up to a year; and as evidenced by this email, we still have tons left!  Surprisingly the meat has turned out to be very tender and juicy so we have yet to be disappointed.

Chris commented the other day that he was "steaked out" which is funny because I made ribeyes for us over a week ago.  Yesterday I asked him to stop by the store and pick up some chicken or fish, and he came home with catfish fillets which I seasoned up really nicely, broiled and served with a salad.  I told him last night that today we WERE having beef, lol.  I researched and researched different recipes for ideas on how to prepare the Kansas City Strip Steaks that I had moved to the fridge last night.  I wanted to cook them differently and not as an actual steak (I think the chefs on Chopped would call it re purposing  lol.)  After reading through dozens and dozens of recipes, I concocted the following:

Sesame-Ginger Strip Steak

1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbs sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs hoisin sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dark sesame oil, divided
2 Kansas City Strip Steaks, trimmed of fat and sliced against the grain
1 1/2 cups shredded carrot
1 onion, quartered & sliced
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
8 oz uncooked wide rice stick noodles (banh pho)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 Tbs sesame seeds, toasted

Soak your rice noodle sticks in warm water for about 45-60 min.

Combine the first 8 ingredients, whisking until sugar dissolves.

Heat a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to pan. Add half of steak; sauté 4 minutes or until browned.

Remove steak from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and steak. Add vinegar mixture, carrot, onion, and sprouts to pan; cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently (this resulted in nice crispy veggies; you may want to stir fry longer if you want your veggies less crispy). Return steak to pan. Add noodles; cook 3-4 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

If your eyes are sharp, you will notice there are no sesame seeds in the dish; I did not realize I was out of sesame seeds so my plan did not work out completely.   I can see how my plan for the toasted seeds would add a nice texture and flavor profile to this dish.  

Suggestions:  I would say that sugar snap peas, red or yellow bell peppers and broccoli (for you enthusiasts, lol) would also be a great addition to this dish; personally, I used what I had here at home.  As far as the noodles are concerned, I can suggest using regular rice noodles if that is all you can find; I used these because it's what I had in the pantry.  If you don't have an Asian market in your area, look in the international aisle of your grocery store for these noodles.

Dinner was a success!  Chris agrees that this dish beats take out for sure (makes me very happy)  Hope you give it a try and that you like it as much as we did.

Until next time, Happy Eating!!