Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rediscovering the Pot Roast.

I work a 40 hour work week.  I am also a full time 24 hour a day mom to a one year old boy,  I’m a girl guide leader to 8 or so 12-14 year olds, I’m vice president of the local Community Arts Council, and somehow I manage to squish arts and crafts in there.  What I am not is Superwoman. 

I don’t exercise enough, the dog doesn't get walked nearly enough, and my new philosophy is that if I can get the closet doors shut – it’s clean enough.   I’ve hired a housekeeper to come for 3 hours every two weeks to help me cope.   However in the time between when I get home from work around 5ish and when Chicken Little gets thrown into bed at 7:30.  I somehow need to get a meal on the table.  My solution has been breaking out with freezer meals (mass produced casseroles that I can freeze and pull out at any time to pop in the oven which are largely assembled on weekends or when Chicken Little is in bed)  and Crock-pot meals assembled in much the same fashion.   It’s working.  We are fed, we even get vegetables on most nights. 

I do still like to cook,  and so it was when hunting for slow-cooker meals I dug up my mother’s Pot Roast Recipe, with the thought of turning into a crock-pot meal.   It’s an old one.  It’s a Pot Roast.. Do people even make pot roast anymore?  Some dinners get a bad rap like tuna casserole, meatloaf and pot roast  The stigma may come from bad experiences or maybe because those meals are just ugly to look at. But I’m a mother without enough time on my hands...  

When I re-read the recipe... all I could see was caramelized onions and beer... this has to be delicious... I decided I’d actually spend the time, and make it in the oven on the weekend.  I sent DH out for the meat.  I sat Chicken Little on the counter,  I sliced onions,  Chicken Little tried a few.. but spat them out, and was shortly after pacified by Christmas Oranges – followed by playing in a sink of soapy water.   I stirred, and caramelized those onions.... stir and wait.. they will eventually get brown and yummy... wait for it, just let them do their thing... wait for it.... browning up. It is sooo worth it.  I added beer, and tomatoes.. and threw the works in the oven. 

Eating dinner that night and watching chicken little down those stewed up onions one after another, I wondered why I have not done this more often – back when I had time to cook.   But even better than the flavour was the gravy – a thick stew of onions, carrots, turnip in beer and tomatoes.  Yum. 

I could not bear to throw out this deliciousness.... I put it on the stove. Added 4 cups of water, an assortment of vegetables, the left over roast cut into bits, and called it pot-roast soup.  It will serve as lunch for the coming week... and voila! Almost instant homemade soup -  this is the stuff I need to get me through the time crunch of the coming week!  Delicious. 

Pot Roast  with Beer and Caramelized Onions 

3-4 pound boneless beef pot roast
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 -3 tablespoons oil
4 med onions halved lengthwise and sliced thin
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon pepper
3 large garlic cloves chopped finely
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 bottle beer
1 can tomato sauce (213 ml) (or some puréed tomatoes when you realize you have no tomato sauce)
1 ½ pound carrots
1 small rutabaga

On a large plate, roll meat in  flour to coat, shaking off excess…reserve excess flour.
In a large Dutch oven heat  half the oil over medium - high heat.  Brown meat on all sides about 8 minutes.  Transfer meat to a plate.
Reduce heat to medium  Add remaining oil to pot.  Add onions, brown sugar, bay leaves, salt  cinnamon, ginger and pepper.  Cook 12- 15 minutes or until onions are tender and  golden, stirring often.

Add reserved flour and garlic.  Cook  30 seconds, stirring.  Add vinegar, cook until evaporated.  Pour in beer and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil and  cook  1 minute or until thickened, stirring.  Return meat  and accumulated juices  to pot. 

Cover and stick in oven at 325 for two hours, turning meat occasionally.

Meanwhile, peel carrots and rutabaga  cut into 2 x ½ inch strips.  Add to meat and cover and simmer   for another 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender.

Remove roast from pot, spoon sauce over meat and serve remaining sauce separately. 

After dinner.... make  Left-over Soup– Chop up remaining roast into bite sized bits, return to pot, with 4 cups of water, and a host of vegetables – green beans, corn, potatoes, cauliflower, mushrooms, kohlrabi or whatever you can find in the bottom of your fridge. 
Bring to boil. 
Voila!   Lunches for the whole family for the week. 

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