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Pot Roast take three and a short explanation…

November 7, 2010

It’s been awhile.  But I have a good reason.

I mean, besides my two wonderful (and crazy active!) children, irresistible husband, and more-than-full-time and very demanding (and rewarding… usually) job.

No, the main reason I haven’t been hanging out in the blogosphere is that I took a look at what I was making and decided I needed to step it up a notch.  It’s true- I have been getting much better over the past few months, and my cooking technique has gained a maturity that I’m really proud of, but I still wasn’t thinking outside the box, I still wasn’t challenging myself the way I want to.

Since July, a few things have happened that have really inspired my cooking:

  • I received the newest Mark Bittman cookbook Food Matters in the mail from a friend.  I read it cover to cover in two days, including all the recipes, and gleaned as much as I could from the philosophy.  Our family already eats meat very irregularly, and now, following the Mark Bittman example, we treat it as, well, a treat!  A little goes a long way following this philosophy.
  • I haven’t been hesitant to bulk up on ingredients.  My pantry is looking better than ever and it’s because I bit the bullet and bought some things that I just need to have around- various oils, capers, different flours, hearty and long lasting veggies, specialty canned items like anchovies.  It really makes a difference when you already have the items you need for a recipe just sitting around.  And, it allows you to be way more creative.  Also, the initial investment is kind of a big deal, but the upkeep isn’t so bad.  Mark Bittman provides a great list in his book, but there are also tons available online.  It depends on your cooking style, of course.  I rarely cook Asian food, for example, so it’s somewhat useless for me to keep certain supplies on hand, although I do like experimenting with Asian ingredients, and in the past few months have made both fried tofu with fried rice and tempura chicken that were both extremely successful.
  • I guess I’ve been grappling with some things.  I tend to be the type of person who grapples with things.  Among these things are baby weight, work, future, child-rearing, getting older, money.  Suffice it to say, I’m a heavy-thinker and a heavy-worrier, and both of those characteristics also tend to render me easily distracted by inner turmoil.  It’s a dramatic fashion of existence, extravagant and indulgent, but it’s just who I am.  Even this bullet is just so ridiculous.  But I can’t help it.  Anyway, I’ve been grappling.
  • I’ve also made some seriously amazing stuff recently, like a vegetable puree that was OUT OF CONTROL and pumpkin cupcakes that were OUT OF THIS WORLD.  I’ll make them both again soon (maybe later in this very same entry if it goes where I think it’s going to go) so that I can write entries about them.  Anyway, the point is, I feel like what I’ve been making really is worth writing about.

Anyway, I’m trying to come back, and write weekly, on Sundays, when there’s time and energy and the kitchen is clean and the mind is sharp and the family is hungry.

********************

So, I tried again, for the third time in three weeks, to cook a roast.  I searched the internet for “cheap beef cuts” and chose the one that seemed the hardest to screw up.  In fact there was a sale at the market (buy one get one free) for these babies, so I figured that was sort of a freebie.  Anyway, I chose two nice looking chuck roasts.

I was running sort of short on time, so I rubbed the roast down, and pan seared it for just a bit before I stuck it in the crock pot with some broth and some veggies to slow cook. (I read braising was the best method for this cut, anyway.)

After a while, the house was smelling awesome and it seemed like it went great, so I took the roast out to rest while I pureed the veggies with some broth and cheese to make a soup, and cooked some additional carrots for a side, and made some gravy.  Then I cut into the roast.  Dry, hard, overcooked disaster.

Well, they can’t all be perfect, and now I am determined to cook a wonderful roast before Christmas.  We’ll see.  I just don’t get it yet.  When I do, I’m sure it will become second nature to me, cooking beef.  For now, it’s a foreign language, and I’m always conjugating wrong.  Wrongly.

The rest of the stuff, though, was killer.  No one makes a root vegetable puree like I do.  But, the way I make it basically negates any value the vegetables brought to the table in the first place.  Oh well.

**************

Root vegetable puree

3 carrots, cleaned and chopped
5 red potatoes, cleaned and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 white sweet potatoes
garlic (I like a lot), peeled
1 medium onion, chopped

Cook the vegetables in flavorful stock (I use beef) until very tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drain and puree in blender with 1/3 cup stock (use the same stuff you just cooked the veggies in), 1 tablespoon cream cheese and 1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.  Add broth until you reach desired thickness/thinness (makes excellent soup, too).

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2010 1:37 PM

    Thanks for the link-love! That puree sounds *awesome!!! (I thought you’d add a stick of butter when I read ‘ it basically negates any value the vegetables brought to the table in the first place’ – hah!)
    I must say, I tried to make pot roast once, and it was, as you write, horrible and inedible (though I ate it anyway because I don’t like wasting). Then I realized I’d never had pot roast before so how do I know where to aim if I’ve never had it? Right? Someone made it for me this year and ummm… it turns out I just don’t like that. It’s tight/hard meat, not tender, and … to me … not tasty. Ah well. Now, make it pork… then we’ll talk 😉

    • November 9, 2010 5:10 PM

      Yeah, I think I’m closing the door on beef. Thanks for the great fried tofu recipe- it was terrific!

  2. courtney permalink
    November 11, 2010 4:33 PM

    i know you are tired, over-worked, have no time for yourself, etc., and updating your blog with foodstuffs is a giant extra. so for me to even ASK for syreeta foodblogging makes me feel selfish. but i really REALLY love it and it makes me feel close to you, though i am far away. PS I almost never ever EVER cook beef.

  3. November 18, 2010 10:02 AM

    That puree sounds divine. I am going to have to give it a try. With the days getting colder and shorter it would be nice to have as soup.

    • November 18, 2010 10:19 AM

      It’s so good. I make it every single time I try pot roast (which I did for a 4th time this past weekend and it was horrible! I give up!!!).

      How ARE you? I follow you on FB religiously! I’m so excited that you live in England during the William/Kate hoopla! Tell me everything!!!

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