May’s ‘Man Catching’ pot roast

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A goal I have in 2010 is to share a recipe or cooking experience every week with here. I so love cooking, and I like to share so I’ll do my best. The first big meal of 2010 I cooked up was this pot roast – which has become a signature dish for me though I don’t make it all that often. It’s great for re-heating, it’s forgiving if you can’t serve right on time, and it’s firefighter approved good eats.

My joke is this – that my pot roast dinner is so tasty, if I were single and had the need to catch me a man I’d be all set. This could be my bait. It’s SO GOOD. I’ve messed with this meat & potatoes recipe for a few years now, and I’m now at a place with it where I’d challenge Bobby Flay to a Throwdown. I’d put it up against any other pot roast and bet on it. {opinion based on my enjoyment + every person I’ve served this perfected recipe to}

First of all, pot roast gets a bum rap (even from me) for being gross because people don’t cook it right. It has to be made with love and a bit of elbow grease – but it’s worth it! I had some really good stuff served to me years ago and I thought “dang, I love beef, potatos, and gravy. I need to figure this thing out!”

Cook the meat: Get a big pot, put meat (chuck bone-in roast is what I used – ask butcher if you need help) in when it’s searing hot (with a few tbsp of oil) and sear until it’s got some good browning action on each side. Then fill pot with: 2 carrots cut in a few pieces, a quartered yellow onion, and liquid to cover. The liquid should be 2/3 beef stock, 1/3 chicken broth. (That’s not exact – just chicken broth would work too). Also sprinkle in a few cloves garlic, and a few tablespoons (3max) of salt and pepper. Now reduce to a low heat OR bake in 325 degree oven for a few hours. How many hours? Usually mine go 3-4 unless it’s a BIG one, then could be up to 6hrs. You want the meat to feel & look tender. Poke it with a fork and see if it shreds right up in your hand. You also want the bone(s) to literally have fallen out (or to fall out when you touch them). Do not try to rush this – the tough cut needs TIME.

Save the liquid. I put mine into a pitcher, but a big bowl would do. SAVE ALL THAT LIQUID! (Well, put it through a strainer first, then save. Dump the carrot + onion + junk that pops up)

Pull the meat: Here’s where the problems start. Do NOT get out a knife. If the meat is tough and you need a knife here’s your clue: it’s NOT DONE! You can use a fork, tongs, or just your fingers. I try to pull in chunks that are ‘a hearty bite’ in size, but sometimes you’ll have tiny bits and that’s ok too. THROW OUT anything bone, connective tissue, or grody. Don’t serve up yuck to your guests – if a person has to pick out yucky stuff out of their pot roast dinner you didn’t do it right! If you’re not going to serve this right away just put it into a Tupperware with about 1/4cup of liquid from cooking and refrigerate. Most of the time I cook & pull the meat the day before. Don’t add salt or seasoning – that’s where your gravy will come in…

The potatoes:  I like to cut baby or fingerling potatoes in 1/2 and roast in oven (at 400) until brown on top. I arrange them so that the cut side is facing up and drizzle with a bit of EVOO and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (don’t go crazy – just make sure a bit of each spice is on each potato). It takes about 30min and should be done right before serving.

The Carrots: This is new for me – and oh DANG is it good. These are cleaned baby carrots that were grilled in cast iron pan with 2 pats of butter + a sprinkle of SUGAR. I just kept rollin’ them around that butter until they started to get all caramelized and yum. Total time on heat about 6minutes – again do right before serving.

 The Gravy: This is what separates the girls from the women. Gravy is so easy to make, and the only talents you need are the ability to stir and patience. I’m gonna have to do a whole gravy post some day. For now here’s the basic idea: Start with equal parts flour and butter in a pan that can hold 8+ cups of fluid on medium heat. I usually go with about 1/3 cup each (flour/butter) but how much you use depends on the amount of gravy you’re making. I’ve heard 1 tablespoon of roux (flour + butter) will thicken a max of 1 cup broth/liquid. I find it’s less than that though. SO! Stir, stir, stir until it’s all melty and nice. Then SLOWLY add in about 1/2 cup of that reserved liquid (feel free to skim fat off top – or use it! either way fine) from the cooking of the meat at a time. Don’t add more until it’s all soaked up. For a while, it’s going to keep looking like a flour-y ball ‘o goo. Don’t speed up. Don’t rush it. Just keep SLOWLY adding SMALL amounts of fluid. This will keep you smooth as silk, and prevent too much liquid being added. Then when you feel like it looks good add a healthy pinch of salt and pepper and reduce to low heat. Keep adding liquid if needed as it thickens further. When you taste test – Use a tiny bite of the pot roast to dip into gravy. This will give you a better read on what it’s going to taste like and if it needs more salt or pepper. Gravy additives, coloring, or anything else is UNWANTED!!! Get it away – you do not need it. It takes me about 20min to make gravy just right. Bottom line? The tears of pleasure from food nirvana are WORTH IT.

Mushrooms: optional but awesome (and I hate mushrooms!)- Get a pan hot, put a bit of oil, and brown up some sliced mushrooms. Then dump into the gravy and let them float around while you pull everything else together.

If meat was prepped day before: Throw it all into a big pan on medium heat and well, heat it up. I throw in a splash of broth/stock just enough to coat bottom of pan so that things stay nice and moist.

Put some potatoes and meat down, drizzle with gravy, serve, and enjoy!

{if there’s any left dump it all together  in a Tupperware & reheat in pan or microwave. It’ll be yum…}

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11 responses »

  1. super excited that you’ll be sharing recipes + cooking tutorials. i need them! :]

    tonight during dinner [at a chinese restaurant] james was talking about how i’m a bad influence because i always eat out, so now he does too. he said that he really likes cooking, and it’s true… when we first met he cooked all time time, but i slowly ruined him. haha. so i really want to start cooking more often.

    i can’t wait to try this one. i love good pot roast and veggies. plus it’s a good option for these super cold days!

  2. Okay-you need to write a cookbook, because even though I don’t cook, I would simply read it for all the giggles! Love this line…”THROW OUT anything bone, connective tissue, or grody. Don’t serve up yuck to your guests”… Thanks for the good writing so early in the morning 🙂

  3. Girl I swear you sound JUST like me!! You can tell you have been watching Paula Dean and Rachael Ray! LOL! Love this recipe and will have to give it a try your way. I usually crock pot mine! Easy and fast! Throw it in and forget about it till done! I’m sure it is no where as good as yours!!

  4. Sounds like this would be good in the slow cooker too. Will try this as soon as the weather gets colder (summer here now in NZ). LOVED it that you use EVOO – we grow olives and make our own – some of it is exported to the US as we contribute to the ilove blend (www.iloveolivenz.com if you’re interested).

    Look forward to more recipes!

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