Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Home Cooking

One of the most comforting things a house can hold is good smells. I have a keen sense of smell, and a scent can take me back years in only seconds. Carnations will always make me think of St. Patrick's Day, because when I was 7 years old my mother and grandmother decided to order some (green, of course) to celebrate the great day.

Tonight for the first time in our new house I'll be coming home to pot roast. I started it last night and it's been cooking since then.

Pot Roast

1 pot roast (rump, for example)
1 small yellow onion for every few pounds of meat
crimini mushrooms (optional)
1-3 bay leaves
beef stock almost to cover
3 or 4 black peppercorns
2-3 cloves garlic
red wine
olive oil


Brown the roast well on all sides, preferably in an iron skillet. Place in dutch oven or crock pot.

Add a glaze of olive oil and the onion(s), thinly sliced to the skillet. When very dark brown, add to the roast.

If using the mushrooms, add to the same pan, with a bit more oil if needed. (If not, deglaze the pan now with red wine, boil down, and add to the roast.)

Sautée the mushrooms until they've begun to brown and add to the pot. Now deglaze the pan and add the reduced liquid to the rest. Put in a few pieces of raw onion, if you like.

Pour enough stock over the contents to come up 2/3 or more.

Add several bruised cloves of garlic, the peppercorns, and the bay leaf or leaves.

Simmer 6 hours or more at a low temperature. Add peeled carrots and potatoes two to three hours before your end time.(Can be prepared ahead up to this point; if so, cool and remove any congealed fat from the surface before continuing.)

Remove the roast and vegetables and strain the liquid. Reduce the liquid over high heat until it's to your taste. It will be thickened but not syrupy.

Season if necessary, with black pepper, freshly cracked, and sea salt.

Dish out the meat (falling apart at this point) and vegetables and serve some sauce over, the rest on the side if you like.

Leftovers are wonderful. Make beef pot pie, fillings for turnovers, soup, or casseroles. Or use the meat for sandwiches.


C.K. Dexter Haven said...

My grandmother used to make roast beef and the house used to reek of vinegar! But come dinnertime, it was the best roast beef. I have tried, and failed to replicate her recipe, and will have to give yours a try to see if it works, seeing as you say the meat is "falling off."

Homespun, I tell you! ;)

Eileen said...


Vinegar? Are you sure she wasn't making sauerbraten? The beef has to marinade in vinegar for quite a few days before it's cooked.

Any long slow braise will produce falling-apart meat. Don't forget the carmelizing; that imparts about half the flavor.

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Yes, it was sauerbraten, but the family always called it roast beef! I tried making my own a while back, but achieved nothing like grandma's classic.