Saturday, January 29, 2011

Simple Yet Delicious Pot Roast

This week was so busy that I didn't notice how short I was on ingredients for a pot roast I wanted to make the other day. No wine, no fresh herbs, no garlic, no canned tomatoes (really, no wine!). Starting with a fantastic chuck roast I had confidence that, despite my pantry's shortcomings, this meal would be satisfying. So, without any fanfare I went ahead with this simple yet delicious pot roast.

After being tantalized for hours by robust aromas, mmm, and tortured by my kids demands, "mom, when will dinner be ready?" (I jest), I noticed a lot of contented smiles from this hearty meal.

Simple Pot Roast

4-5 lb. chuck roast from butcher, tied (I had a 4 1/2 lb roast)
8 carrots, halved  
8 yukon gold potatoes, halved, skins left on
1 medium red onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 32 oz. box beef stock/broth
1 ts Worcestershire Sauce  
1 tbs corn starch and 1/4 cup hot water (for slurry)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Wash, scrub, and chop vegetables (I left skins on, especially since they were organic). Heat olive oil in stock pot/dutch oven. Salt and pepper meat to taste and brown on all sides, remove (leaving beef bits on bottom of pot) and saute onion (add more olive oil if needed) until tender then garlic until tender. Add beef stock/broth, 2 halved carrots, Worcestershire Sauce. Cook, covered, in oven for 3 hours (or until meat looks tender and is starting to break up - depends on oven and pot). After 3 hours, add potatoes and 6 carrots and cook uncovered 1 hour.  Remove meat and vegetables, make slurry from corn starch and water, add as needed to slightly thicken. Slice meat, lay out on platter with vegetables and pour gravy over top.

First I started by browning meat in olive oil:

After removing meat, I sauteed red onion until tender, scraping up those wonderful bits of flavor:

 While the onion was sauteing, I chopped garlic and added at the end so it wouldn't burn:

When garlic was heated through, I returned the meat, added beef stock, two carrots, about a teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce. This is one ingredient I rarely use (I always feel like I'm cheating) but works well when in a pinch for lack of other ingredients:

 After cooking for 3 hours, in went the potatoes and carrots and cooked another hour:

Don't like carrots? Use green beans instead, which my family prefers but I didn't have. However, when I use them, I always roast separately.  

After 4 hours (when meat was falling apart), I removed meat, cut strings and sliced. I also removed the soft carrots that were added in the beginning.

I quickly made a slurry of corn starch and hot water, slowly added to broth over medium heat until incorporated (but as quickly as possible to finish up for my starving family). The gravy was already reduced from cooking so long it just needed a little thickening - I added only about half the slurry:

Rich, robust, and satisfying!

Leftovers a great for sandwiches, shepards pie, soup, breakfast potatoes, or just reheat as is.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kale, Roasted Parsnip, And Carrot Soup With Ginger

Brrr, the frigid temperatures in New England right now bring to mind those hearty beefy comfort meals. 

And soup also comes to mind on these frigid days. This soup, I think, is a nice light alternative that's hearty enough, thanks to roasted vegetables, to make you let out sighs of relief and satisfaction and warm you up.

Kale, Roasted Parsnip and Carrot Soup with Ginger
6 cups chicken stock
1 bunch kale
4 - 5 parsnips
3 - 4 carrots
Fresh ginger, about 1/2 to 1 inch long piece (depending on how much you like, thickness of piece, etc.) finely minced or grated  
1/2 ts turmeric
1/2 ts thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Do not peel but trim, scrub, and rinse parsnips and carrots.  Cut lengthwise into similar size slices.  Sprinkle with olive oil, spread out on baking sheet in single layer, and roast in preheated 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes for a crisp-tender finish, not mushy (depends on your stove and thickness of vegetables, check for tenderness and burning).  Meanwhile, heat chicken stock. Rinse kale, remove their stems, roughly chop, and add to stock with ginger, turmeric, thyme, salt and pepper to taste.  After parsnips and carrots are roasted, chop into chunky bite size pieces and add to the stock.  Simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender to your liking. 

* * *

For this soup, I started with beautiful organic fresh vegetables. As usual, I had an after thought, and added carrots after taking this picture and chopping. 

Here they are all roasted and tender.

Chop vegetables and add to the soup.

Beautiful turmeric and savory thyme! Or fresh thyme would be lovely.

With mittens off, a hot bowl of soup warmed hands (and bellies).

To read whether to peel carrots and parsnips that are not organic, see: