Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kitchen Diary 2012 – Beef Pot Roast

Take a 2-pound chuck roast (or smaller, if you can find it). Slice out any massive pieces of fat. Salt on all sides, and let sit on a small rack over a plate – uncovered – in the fridge overnight.

Early the next afternoon:
- Slice 1 onion in thick rings, lay on the bottom of a small Dutch oven.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a frying pan and get it hot. Plop in the chuck. Let sit until it browns nicely. Flip.
- Place the browned hunk of meat on the bed of onions.
- Pour oil out of pan, reduce heat on burner and add 2 Tablespoons of brandy and a Tablespoon of tomato paste, swirl everything around.
- At this point we added about a half cup of beef broth that had been sitting in the freezer. If you don’t have this in your freezer, fret not. You will have some when this is done to help out with the next pot roast you make.
- Add about a cup of beer (an unassuming lager – you don’t want something with interesting, aggressive flavors because those will turn on you after they sit with a roast for a few hours) and wait for the fizz to subside. Pour all this over the pot roast.
- Break 2 bay leaves in half. Place them between the meat and the wall of the Dutch oven at the 4 points of the compass.
- Pour in some more beer – or water – so that it comes about halfway up the beef.
- Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put on a low, low burner.
- At this point, it’s okay to take a nap or whatever. It will take 3-4 hours to cook.

Now: we know, we know! You’re supposed to brown the meat in the Dutch oven! After several attempts of doing this and struggling with tongs and screaming, it just seemed easier to do it in a separate frying pan. Feel free to do this and write about it in your own amusingly-illustrated and much better written food blog.

What about the fixins?
- When the roast is in its final stages, add a quartered potato (if cooking for one – two potatoes if, you know, you’re blessed with an adoring audience), submerge in the heady beef broth, pop the lid back on, and let cook for another 10-15 minutes.
- To cook the rest of the veg: we ladle out a bit of the beef broth into a frying pan, add some sliced vegetables (carrots, broccoli) and cover to let them steam. It seems like an exasperatingly fussy move, but if you’re making small servings, it’s nice to have just enough vegetables - we're not fond of leftover cooked veg.
- When you’re done: put the meat in one container and put the strained broth in another. The next day, the beef broth can be defatted by peeling off the raft of fat from the top.

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