Monday, December 19, 2016

Out of The Snow & Into The Kitchen


Here in Northern NY it’s officially Winter!

Which means it’s finally time for that hearty Beef Pot Roast you’ve been dreaming about since July.

And what better way to cook it than by digging out the ol’ crock pot? Slow cooking your roast in a crock pot will ensure tender meat bursting with flavor. It will also produce an enticing, robust scent that will drift through your house all day long, luring humans and animals alike...

Even Bonzo can't resist!

If you’re like me, you may discover a hidden sense of nostalgia behind this scent, awakening fond childhood memories of returning home after playing in the ice and snow, being greeted by the warmth of a fire (or at least the radiator, in my case) and smelling the sweet aroma of carrots and onions cooking in the kitchen. 

Fragrance is a powerful thing.

Now that the snow is falling, It's time to go "back to the future". You will need the following ingredients to do so (yes this is a recipe!) :

Olive Oil2-5 tablespoons
Thyme, 7 sprigs- strip leaves off 3 sprigs, leave the remaining 4 intact 
Parsley, 3 sprigs- strip leaves off 2 sprigs, leave the remaining 1 intact
Garlic, 5 cloves- 3 halved, 2 finely chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
Chuck Roast1 (approx. 3lbs)
Red Wine1 cup  (not essential, but adds flavor)
Onion, 1 peeled and roughly chopped
Leek, 1 Cleaned, Prepped, and Chopped (see video here)
Carrots, 5-7, peeled and cut into thirds
Celery Stalks, washed and cut into pieces
Bay Leaf, 1
Portabello Mushroom (optional), 1/2 chopped into small pieces
Fingerling Potatoes, 8-10 halved
Water or Broth
Butter, approx. 1/2 stick
Flour, 1/4 cup 

and a crockpot of course!

Overall cook time is approximately 1 day, as you will need to season the roast at least a day in advance.

Before you begin, remember, nothing tastes better, smells better, feels better, and is better for you than fresh, real food. And that's what this recipe is. The end result is well worth any time and effort spent, as it is both delicious and nutritious, and once cooked, will provide several days' worth of meals, freeing you up to spend more time wrapping xmas gifts or playing outside in the snow ;) But let's not forget all the fun you'll have chopping, dicing, and mixing in the kitchen first!

You will begin by seasoning your chuck roast: 

A) Combine olive oil, leaves of 2 parsley sprigs, leaves of 3 thyme sprigs, salt and pepper.

B) Rub mixture onto chuck roast with fingers, making sure to coat entire roast.

C) Return seasoned roast into fridge to marinate over night or preferably longer.


After your roast has been properly seasoned for a day or two, you are ready to begin!

1) Add the following to your crockpot:

-1 onion
-1 leek
-1 carrot
-2 celery stalks
-3 garlic cloves (halved)
-4 thyme sprigs 
-1 parsley sprig
-1 bay leaf

2) Dig out enough space in center of crockpot to place your roast. Add 1/2 cup wine (optional) and enough water or broth to come almost to the top of the meat. Set crock pot on low heat and cover.

3) After approximately 1 hour: stir veggies and turn meat for even cooking. Continue to turn meat approximately every hour.

4) After 4 to 5 hours, add the following to pan and place over stovetop on medium heat:

-2 tbsp butter
-splash of broth or water (to prevent burning)
-remaining carrots 
-remaining celery
-salt & pepper to taste
-extra herb sprigs if desired

Saute veggies on all sides for 3-5 minutes to add flavor.

5) Remove Veggies from pan and add to crock pot.

***This is where I added my special ingredient: fresh picked, home grown tomatoes. Although the recipe doesn't call for tomatoes, I was fortunate enough to be given them by a generous neighbor of mine who grows her own in the backyard:

Adding kindness never hurts

6) Add remaining wine to crock pot, if desired.

7) Continue to cook on low heat for 3 to 4 more hours, totaling 8 hours approximately. Depending on your particular model of crock pot, your roast may cook faster or slower. Continue to check your roast by cutting off small pieces and tasting. When the meat is very tender and can be cut with ease, your roast is ready. Vegetables should also be soft enough to bite into.

Time to make the gravy! What is a delicious roast without a savory, rich sauce to go with it? 

8) Extract juices from crock pot (there will be plenty). 

9) In a medium-small saucepan, heat juices over medium-low heat. Add mushroom (optional). Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

10) Add flour while mixing vigorously with fork or whisk. Add more juice from crock pot if necessary.

10) Add remaining butter. Salt & pepper to taste.

Gravy should be thick, but if so desired, to thin out simply add more juice from crock pot, milk, or broth.

And voila!

You are ready for an incredibly satisfying supper, complete with what I hope to be some of your fondest childhood memories.

And remember, cooking is just another way we can live in the moment while savoring our past :)