Geeks Pot Roast
1- 2 or 3 pound pot roast (chuck or Butt)
3 medium yellow onions
½ cup baby carrots
3-4 medium potatoes
1 cup sliced baby portabella or cubed (1/2 to 1 inch cube) full size portabella mushrooms
(You can substitute white mushrooms if you can’t find portabellas)
(Note: The measurements for seasonings and olive oil are only approximate, I usually use the “carefully shake on until it looks good” method of seasoning)
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning (Buy the premixed)
1 teaspoon ground dried garlic (Usually I use a garlic grinder, available with dried garlic at most spice areas of grocery stores)
1 teaspoon fresh coarse ground pepper (Usually I use a pepper grinder)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce (approximate, I use a couple of glugs on the meat and veggies straight from the bottle)
½ cup water
¼ cup olive oil
About 2 tablespoons of Mike’s Savory Blend (whole, dried, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, just like the old song, in equal portions, ground together using a mortar and pestle.)
2 tablespoons all purpose Flour if gravy is desires
1 stoneware or cast iron Dutch oven
If stoneware used, 1 large skillet
1 large fork
1 large sharp knife
Mortar and pestle
1 cup measuring cup
Oven mitts or hot pads.
Before you start, make up the Mike’s Savory Blend by putting ¼ tablespoon each of whole leaf, dried, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme into the mortar and use the pestle to grind it up until everything is nicely crushed and mixed together.
Ok, in my continuing series of menus for geeks (if two can be a continuing series!) I thought I would cover an old standby, pot roast. I usually buy my pot roast over at the local Kroger, now a pot roast is a roast cooked usually with water, in a large pot and can of any of a number of cuts of meat, however, I find that a 2-3 pound chuck roast, either with or without the bone is usually the best. I like the boneless myself as you get more meat that way. I also usually use the white potatoes with the real thin skins so you don’t have to peel them. You can also substitute the small red potatoes, if you do, use 2-3 for each of the medium potatoes.
Let’s get started. First, if you use a stoneware Dutch oven (I usually use a pampered chief model, my daughter sells that brand) then you will need a large skillet (fry pan) to brown the roast in, otherwise if you are using a cast iron Dutch oven, just brown it in the Dutch oven. The cast iron one I use has a nice long handle like a fry pan, makes it easier to move around.
So, if you haven’t guessed you will be browning the roast before you do anything else.
This usually only takes a couple of minutes:
Place the olive oil in the skillet or cast iron Dutch oven, place the skillet or Dutch oven on a large burner and set the burner to medium high. After the pan warms up a bit (doesn’t take long, test it with a small drop of water, if the water disappears in a flash of steam as soon as it hits the oil, its hot enough) carefully place the roast in the pan taking care not to splash hot oil everywhere, this is why I list a big fork as part of the equipment, use it to easily control the roast. As the roast begins to sizzle, sprinkle the exposed side with about a quarter of the Italian seasoning, ground garlic, course ground pepper and salt and the Mike’s savory blend. Once the side in the pan looks browned, turn the roast over onto the side you just seasoned and use another quarter of the seasonings to season the side you just browned. I usually turn the roast up on each end and each side as well to make sure the entire thing gets evenly browned. Remember, you aren’t trying to cook the roast, just brown the outside.
If you are using a stoneware Dutch oven, take the roast using the large fork and place it into the Dutch oven, turn off the burner. If you are using a cast iron Dutch oven, just turn off the burner.
At this point, turn on the main oven with a temperature setting of 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the uncovered roast in the oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
While the roast is doing the dry bake:
Now, wash the potatoes using just water and then, if needed, cut the potatoes, and if you are using the large, white potatoes cut them into fourths, I usually do them along the long axis into halves then split the resulting pieces in half along their long axis, then cut the resulting sections into half or thirds across their short axis, the results should be potato sections that are basically cube shaped with one side rounded. If you use the small red potatoes, just wash them real well in just water. I usually just put the cold water on and hand rub the potatoes under the running water until any residual soil is removed. You should also carefully examine the potatoes and remove any dark or discolored areas.
Once the roast is finished dry baking, remove it from the oven.
Place the cut up potatoes in the Dutch oven surrounding the roast. Lightly sprinkle the potatoes with a small bit of each of the seasonings.
Now wash and place the baby carrots into the Dutch oven, again, sprinkle them with a bit of the seasonings.
Next, you need to cut up the onions. First remove the outer husk, I usually do this by slicing the root end off about ¼ inch from the bottom and slicing the top end off about ¼ inch or more from the top (until I get just onion exposed, no residual stalk, the ends should appear uniform white or light yellow in color, no dark rings.) Then make a light cut lengthwise, just deep enough to pierce the first layer of actual onion, now just peel off the husk. If you do this with the onion held under running water you may find it less tearful. Once the onions are peeled, cut two of them like you did the potatoes and place them around the pot roast. The third one will be sliced into ¼ to ½ inch thick slices and laid across the top of the roast. Sprinkle some of the remaining seasoning on top of the onions.
Now if you can buy the presliced portabellas, great, if not just get the whole ones. Usually I remove the stalks from the mushrooms if I get the whole ones unless the stalks are fairly tender (that is, about the same as the rest of the mushroom) then I wash off the upper side (the side without the “gills”) I also cut at least the first ½ inch or so of the stalk off as it usually is rather stiff and dirty. With the full size Portabellas I usually slice them into ½ inch thick slices, then remove the gills and slice the remains into about ½ inch cubes. If you got baby Portabellas, just cut them into ½ inch slices, same for if you substituted white mushrooms. Place the mushrooms in the pan and put the remaining dry spices on top of them.
Now use the Worcestershire bottle to liberally coat the vegetables and roast with Worcestershire sauce, be generous. Then carefully pour the ½ cup water into the pan, try not to wash the seasoning off.
Cover the Dutch oven and place in the preheated oven.
Now as to cooking time, it really depends on how you like your roast done. If you like it medium rare, then it should be done in about another hour. If you like it falling apart well done then it could take 2 1/2 hours. You need to monitor the roast by periodically checking it this is what the oven mitts or hot pads are for, they make taking the large, heavy pan out of the oven to check the roast so much easier. I usually check it my doing a test cut to at least half-way into the center of the roast. Many folks say cook it until it is tender. If it takes longer, it takes longer, don’t worry too much, but just don’t burn the veggies.
I usually serve it on a platter, sliced in ¼ inch think slices with the vegetables in a separate bowl. However, don’t slice the entire roast, just enough for first servings or it will dry out. If you like you can make gravy from the drippings.
In the one cup measuring cup mix the flour with about ½-3/4 cup water, use a whisk or a fork and make sure all the lumps are out. In the cast iron Dutch oven or skillet, heat the drippings on the stove top until they begin to lightly boil, slowly add the flour and water mixture while stirring the drippings. Stir constantly until the gravy is smooth. Remove from heat and use on roast and vegetables.
For a wine I usually use a Cab or a Merlot, something slightly dry but with good body. Usually any 2-3 year old California winery vintage is good in the $12 range.