That's a charming name for a cooking column, don't you think? What? Not so much?
Anyway, today I wanted to share the recipe for this pot roast that I make, because it's something that the kids like, and takes very little active cooking time (although there is a lot of passive cookery--stay tuned) and I think turns out looking and tasting much fancier than it actually is, which is to say: NOT FANCY AT ALL. Also it freezes quite nicely so, you know, more food for later.
The first thing you need when you're cooking this thing is a big pot. Well, no, actually I guess the first thing you need is not to be a vegetarian. But beyond that, the pot. The best kind of pot is one of those ceramic-coated cast iron pots for slow cooking. I have (and LOVE) these Lodge Dutch Ovens (which actually has much less to do with farts than it sounds like) because they work well and look great and are many, many times cheaper than the equivalently-sized Le Creuset Dutch Ovens that I assume Lodge is knocking off.
I should have probably taken a picture of the meat before I started cooking it, but I FORGOT so I'll just tell you that while a lot of "roast" or "brisket" type cuts will work well for this recipe (and are generally on the cheaper side), the one that I've found to work the best has been beef shoulder. I know, that's maybe too anatomical for you, but just trust me. Shoulder. Get a piece that has some good fat on it, it's not going to kill you.
I like to use this dry steak rub on the meat before I get it into the pan. It's pretty much just a mixture of salt and pepper and dried garlic and red pepper flakes and whatnot, but whatever proportion it's in is good, and I rarely have to season the roast at the end, because it's all flavored up already.
Pour some olive oil into the bottom of the pot and let it get hot. Like, very very hot. High flame. You need it to be hot because they first thing you're going to do is brown the meat. The whole thing. Just throw it in there. (Don't really throw it, slide it in gently. The hot oil! Splashy!) It takes a couple minutes (four? five? I don't know) on each side, but you'll be able to tell when it's done because it's going to start smelling yum. Like BROWNED MEAT.
(I told you this was not for vegetarians, right?)
OK, while your meat is browning (keep the lid of the pot on while it's doing that--there's a lot of smoke, and the oil besides) cut up one big yellow onion. Don't be fussy about it, big chunks is fine, this thing's going to cook down for hours.
Then when both sides of the meat are nicely seared, pick it up with a pair of tongs and just scatter the onions underneath the meat, along the bottom of the pan. Put the meat back on top.
You have a bottle opener handy, right? Good. Pop open a bottle of wine. It doesn't have to be nice, just drinkable. (I used this Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon that they had at the supermarket, because it tastes fine and it was on sale for $6.00--don't be scandalized, wine snobs.) Now go ahead and pour that wine on top, all over everything--maybe about 1/3rd to 1/2 of the bottle. It's OK if the meat isn't all covered up, it's going to make it's own meat juices (ew?) and the wine is just going to be, like, extra flavor stuff.
Turn the heat way, way down, as far as it'll go almost while still maintaining a lazy simmer. We have that kind of stove where there's no flame (what do they call it? Conduction cooktop or whatever? Anyway, it's the flat kind with no fire) and I don't really love cooking without a flame but for slow cooking it's the greatest, because you can really get the heat down low. Now to put the rest of the ingredients in.
Here, by the way, is the main reason I make this recipe as often as I do:
We have these two giant rosemary bushes in our backyard. We didn't plant them, the real grown-ups that lived here before us did, but they're there and they're great. I usually snip off a 4 or 5-inch stem for this roast and just sort of stick it in there.
Other stuff you can put in (if you like): mushrooms, carrots, potatoes. I didn't put potatoes in mine because this ends up making a lot of food and I usually freeze half of it for a later day, and you know how potatoes get all mealy in the freezer. But if you're having a bunch of people over, by all means, cube up some potatoes and throw them in there. (You might want to wait a few hours before you do that so they don't break up over the long cooking time.) Also throw in a mess of diced garlic into the liquid. How much? I don't know, a big tablespoonful. Mo' garlic, mo' tasty.
See how pretty? And then you just sort of cover it up (make sure the lid fits on tightly) and walk away for, like, four or five hours. Seriously, you don't need to do anything else. Once in a while (like every hour) you can get your tongs and flip the meat over if you feel like it so the top doesn't dry out, but I'm not sure how much it matters. The long low heat ends up generating a lot of meaty juice and everything ends up in the liquid in the end.
Again, just make sure the heat is low low low. You want the liquid to be just bubbling a teeny little bit, but a long low heat is what's going to make the meat tender. Cook it too hot and too fast and it'll just get tough. But low and slow and you'll have that kind of meat that just falls apart when you poke it with a fork. All the better for your edentulous future.
See how that goes? Keep it cooking for a bunch of hours and just leave it alone, mostly. I made this because I was post-call today and I wanted to take a nap, and that's basically what I did while dinner was on the stove. I suppose you could do this in a crock pot too, you'd just have to brown the meat first before sticking it in there. Actual labor involved was, like, 20 minutes. (Not counting going to the supermarket to get the meat--I am not a person who relishes cooking so I used baby cut carrots and pre-sliced mushrooms because why the hell not?)
Look, it's not like Jacques Pepin or anything but it's rustic and homey and people tend to like it, even child people. Serve it over rice or mashed potatoes (if you don't have potatoes already in it), or do Cal's favorite variation, which is with a salad and those Pillsbury crescent rolls that come in a tube. Oh, if I loved anything as much as my kids love bread in a tube, I'd probably be a much more contented person.
Enjoy! Also, are there any other easy (emphasis: EASY) recipes that you can recommend for us to use some of that rosemary?