Kitchen Tip #1 - Pot Roast
A pot roast cannot cook properly in one hour.
If you want a pot roast to turn out succulent, tender, and flavorful (was that redundant? Doesn't succulent mean tender and flavorful?), you must follow these three important rules (they're easy to remember!):
The first key to a fantastic pot roast is to sear the meat. Prepare your pan (I use my electric fry pan because it has a good lid for the Simmer portion of cooking) by heating 2 Tablespoons of oil in it at about 350 degrees. Gently place a good piece of chuck roast flat on top of the oil and let it sear, uncovered for about 4 minutes. Turn it over (using tongs or a pancake turner, not a piercing fork), and do the same on the opposite side. It isn't necessary to sear the sides unless you have a blocky piece of meat, more of a square shape rather than one shaped like a thick book.
Secondly, after you have seared it, season the meat. You can go with a simple salt and pepper seasoning (which makes a fabulous pot roast), or get more elaborate, shaking garlic salt, chipotle or Cajun seasonings, or other salts and herbs that your creative mind makes up. My favorite stand-by, however, is good old salt and pepper. Season liberally the top of the meat (you can briefly turn it over to season the bottom if it has already been seared well) and then you're ready for the third key to a fantastic pot roast:
Simmer. In order to simmer something, you need a liquid for it to simmer in. I've found simple, precious water to be the best. With this, you will create your own delicious beef stock with the drippings, juices, and water (which can be made into a marvelous gravy). Add 1 cup of water to the pan, cover, lower the heat to 250 degrees, and simmer for 1/2 hour. You will hear it bubbling away.
Every 1/2 hour, check the liquid to make sure that there is plenty of it (I think it should come about 1/3 of the way up the meat), and add more if necessary. Put the lid back on and let it continue to simmer for a total of 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Some things that you can add to enhance the flavor of the pot roast are mushrooms (just toss 'em on top), minced garlic (fresh, of course), and sliced onions, scattered around. As the roast simmers, the juices of the veggies and garlic will just wrap themselves around the meat and their subtle flavor will infuse the meat by the act of simmering. Is your mouth watering yet, my young apprentice?
Monday’s Pot Roast Dinner
1 large chuck roast
2 Tbs. olive oil
8 mushrooms, cut in half
1 large onion, cut in fourths
5 cloves garlic, minced
Potatoes (see note below for amount)
Milk, cream cheese, butter (for mashed potatoes, or your favorite recipe)
1 Head garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
Carrots (enough to feed your family)
1 can cream of mushroom soup or 1 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper for seasoning
To help you plan your day, here is a sample breakdown of timing, based on your king arriving home and ready for dinner by 6:00pm. Included is a menu plan to accentuate the roast (Pot roast, steamed carrots, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, gravy):
2:00 – set out chuck roast to rest
2:55 – heat skillet with oil
3:00 – sear meat one side
3:04 – sear meat other side
3:05 – season meat
3:06 – add water, cover, lower heat, and simmer
3:30 – check water level (add more if necessary)
~Peel carrots and cut into buttons
~Place carrots in saucepan with water (about 1 inch) and dash of salt. Set aside
4:00 – check roast water level
~Wash potatoes and cut into fourths for mashed potatoes (I usually do twice as many potatoes as the number of people eating)
~Set in large pot of salted water (enough to cover the potatoes
generously); set aside
~Heat oven to 400 degrees
~Prepare garlic for roasting: Slice top 1/5 of garlic off (the pointy parts) to reveal the garlic underneath; place on top of foil sheet; drizzle with olive oil, lightly salt, and close up foil tightly so oils cannot seep out; Bake in oven for 1 hour
4:30 – Put potatoes on to boil
5:00 – Toss mushrooms, onion, and minced garlic over the top and sides of the roast. Lightly season again.
~Set the table with plates, forks, knives, glasses, water pitchers, salt, pepper, and butter.
~Pull roasted garlic out of oven; set aside
5:30 – Crunch time:
Put a smile on your face – you can pull this off!
Have kids ready to bless Daddy: When your king arrives home, have the children sit him in his comfy chair, take off his shoes and bring him a glass of nice water, a cup of already-prepared tea, or a half- glass of dinner wine (if you’re so inclined). Assure him that dinner will be ready by 6:00.
1. Drain potatoes and put back into pot
2. Add butter, milk, cream cheese, whatever you like for your mashed potatoes.
3. Carefully squeeze garlic from bulb into the mashed potato mixture (yes, darlings, the entire thing – it will be delicious, and kitchen hint #2 does not apply to roasted garlic) .
4. Mash potatoes and cover tightly again.
5. Heat up carrots for 10 minutes on stove until tender. Drain, add a pat of butter, and cover.
6. Pull roast from pan, place on platter, top with steamed mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Cover with foil.
7. To drippings in pan add one of the following: sour cream to thicken or 1 can cream of mushroom soup. Mix well. Set gravy into gravy boat or bowl with spoon.
Put the mashed potatoes into a bowl, sprinkle with paprika or a pat of butter, tuck in a large spoon, and put onto table
Put the gravy bowl onto the table (don’t forget the spoon)
Place carrot buttons around the roast and put on table with a serving fork and knife.
Call your family to dinner.
Fresco e bello: Don’t toss the leftovers! They’re FABULOUS the next day!