Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

My mom & dad at their 35th anniversary party

First and foremost I want to say Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers, mothers in law, step-mothers, grandmothers and any other mother figure.  None of us would be where we are without you.  I am not huge into these greeting card holidays since we should tell the people we love how we feel every day.  I know, a little corny but shouldn't we?  Life is short!  In honor of Mother's Day I thought I would share with you one of the first dinners my mom taught me to make, pot roast. 

I love my mom very much but she's, admittedly, not much of a cook but she does have some go to recipes that she has passed on to me and my brothers.  Her pot roast is one of my favorites.

 Throwing meat in a pan with some veggies and water then boiling them for a couple hours is a time honored New England tradition. Whether it is a ham, a pot roast or corned beef brisket I love boiled dinner.  How can you go wrong with everything in one pot?

Right before we left to go back to Massachusetts I made a delicious pot roast.  I had been feeling a bit homesick and figured some meat and potatoes would be the cure. It kinda was. If you have never made pot roast you should do it, soon. It is one of the easiest meals you will ever make.

For this one I finally broke out my cast iron dutch oven. I freakin love this thing! I do want to get one of those gorgeous enameled ones some day but this baby with survive a nuclear war so it will do for now. Cast iron cookware is another thing you definitely need to check out sooner rather than later. It is durable, nonstick (when properly seasoned) and cooks just about everything beautifully. I will have to remember to do a post on seasoning cast iron one day.

With the black stove it's a bit tough to get a good look

Anyway, back to the original topic, pot roast. This doesn't really require a recipe, it's more about method than quantities.  I have a lot of these recipe-less recipes don't I???  I read somewhere "cooking is an art, baking is a science".  I take this to mean that when you're cooking make the recipe your own.  Add the flavors that you like, try something new, be an artist.  I try to tell Chelle this all the time, she's working on it.  When baking you can't veer too far from a recipe because baking involves chemical reactions but that is a blog for another day.

The most important ingredient is the meat.  You want to get a Chuck roast for this.  Most times the package will also have a sticker on it that says something like "Great for Pot Roast".   It should be nicely marbled with fat but not too fatty.  The size you get will depend on how many people you are planning to feed.  The one I got was about two and a half pounds.

See what I mean about the marbling?
Whenever you making a meat dish you want to bring it to room temperature before you start to cook it so that it cooks evenly. You want to season the meat with some salt and pepper.  You could add a little garlic powder too if you like.  I like.  I am a huge fan of garlic.  It's a good thing Mr. Lucky is too or I'd have to buy stock in breath mints.

Once the meat is seasoned you are going to add a a tablespoon or so of oil to the bottom of your pot set to high heat.  You are going to sear all sides of the roast to seal in the flavor and juices.

See the nice caramelization? That means yummy!
Once the meat has been seared turn the heat down to medium and add enough beef broth to cover the meat by about an inch or so.  I ended up using about 4 cups.  You can always use water with some beef bouillon if you don't have broth on hand.  Plain water is ok too, the meat and veggies will flavor it just fine.

I get the store brand.  It's less expensive and tastes just the same.

Once the broth is simmering you are going to add the vegetables. You can add just about any veggies that you like.  This time I added pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms and potatoes.  The potatoes cook fairly quickly so you want to add them closer to the end of the cooking time.

 These onions taste delicious but they were a pain in the butt to peel.  I just used a handful, about 12-14. You could always just quarter a couple whole onions and toss them in instead of these, they just won't hold together as well.

 I like to get whole carrots and peel and chop them myself.  I have heard rumors that those baby carrots that are a lot more convenient are bleached.  I don't know about you but bleach isn't something I want near my food so I am peeling and chopping.  For this I used about four average sized carrots.

 I love mushrooms.  They don't have to be fancy, plain old button mushrooms will do just fine.  I cleaned them with a dry paper towel and quartered them.  They absorb moisture easily so you don't want to clean them with water. 

These were very small new potatoes. I cleaned them and threw them in whole.  I used about 10-12 of them.

Once you have the veggies in, minus the potatoes, cover the pot and cook for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Now, add in the potatoes and cook for about another 30-45 minutes uncovered.  The meat will be fork tender when it's done.

I take the meat out whole and put it on a platter and surround it with the veggies.  You'll barely need a knife to cut it, it's so tender.

Perfect meat and potatoes dinner.
I didn't this time but you can use some of the cooking liquid to make a gravy.  This time I slacked off and opened a jar.  Shame on me!  You could also strain the broth and use it to make a soup.  Hmmm, that one just came to me.  I'll be doing that next time.  I even surprise myself sometimes.

So, that's it.  Thanks Mom!  Happy Mother's Day again to all the moms and I'll be talking to you soon.


Chelle said...

Yes, she tells me that all the time!!! It is a slow process, but I'm starting to learn and believe, lol.

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