Sunday, December 9, 2012

Italian Pot Roast

Redskins v. Ravens on the Tube today and fortunately it is raining so there absolutely no reason to go outside. On days like today, I like to spend the afternoon cooking while Skins seek victory against the ridiculously purple yard birds.

I am just getting started and will post my progress throughout the day. This recipe takes about 4 hours to prepare and cook. It is a time commitment but the results justify the effort. You end up with an amazing cut of tender meat that falls off the bone. I like to serve it over Risotto or Polenta. The leftovers make great sandwiches and an incredible sauce for pasta.

Nicely Marbled Chuck Roast

Chuck Roast is typically the meat you want to use for Italian Pot Roast. I look for a well marbled piece that is about 3 pounds. I let it rest until it gets to room temperature.

Herb and Garlic Mix
Okay, so step one is chop up 4 large cloves of garlic, handful of chopped whole parsley, 5 sage leaves, about a tablespoon of fresh rosemary and a Bay Leaf.  Now mix together. Split this in half and with one half mix in about a tablespoon of Olive Oil and some freshly cracked pepper. Cut some slits in your Chuck and stuff in your mix. Put the other half of your herb mix aside.....Half-Time. Pelicans lead by 7. Come on Skins!

Nicely Browned
So now, while the Skins are softening up the Purple Pigeons, it's time to brown your meat. Heat your cast iron pot on medium and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add your meat and brown on each side for about 10 minutes a side. You want a nice brown crust when you are done.

Once this is complete, remove the Chuck and set aside. You want to now chop up one onion, one carrot, one and a half celery stocks and half a package (4 ounces) of Bella Mushrooms. Reheat your pan to medium and cook this mix until the onions are just starting to brown. Add a good pinch of salt and stir in your remaining herb mix. Then add 1/2 cup of red wine and two tablespoons of tomato paste. Now you want to boil this mix until all of the liquid is gone. While it is boiling use your wooden spoon to remove all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Once you have boiled away your liquid, add 1 cup of red wine and 1 cup of chicken stock. You are going to boil this until it is reduced in half. Here is the thing, boiling is more like an aggressive simmer not a rolling boil. This will take about 15 minutes.

America's Team, the Washington Redskins, that's right, I said it....just evened the score with a two point conversion. A crushing blow to the already insecure town of Baltimore. On to overtime.

Once you have reduced your liquid you are going to add another cup of red wine and another cup of chicken stock along with a can of whole tomatoes which you have crushed and drained. Once this is simmering put your chuck back in. You will want to simmer this for 2 1/2 hours flipping the meat every thirty minutes.

Hail to the Redskins, Hail Victory! Redksins beat the Ravens.  Now just cooking and waiting.....

Here is the finished product. The chuck is sliced thin and served over Risotto cooked with butter, saffron and white wine. The sauce is served over top.

The meat is falling off the bone tender and the flavor is infused. The sauce is complex and reflects the deep flavors of the layered cooking.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dinner On A Wednesday

Taylor's Biscuits
   Tonight was one of those nights where I just did not want to cook. Fortunately, I had some spaghetti sauce I made last week and some noodles. I highly recommend making fresh tomato sauce every few weeks and freezing it. It certainly has helped me keep my committment to avoid processed foods.
I decided to man up and make some of Taylor's favorite biscuits to compliment the sauce. They take about 15 minutes of preparation and cook in about 12 minutes. The recipe like all of the recipes I use is very easy and quick.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together, 2 cups of flour in a bowl, 2 1/2 table spoons of Baking Powder and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Add 6 tablespoons of butter cut in small pieces. With two knives, cut the butter into the flour. Add 1 cup of milk and mix with a wooden spoon until your ingredients are combined. Now, gently knead the mixture onto the sides of the bowl.

While I was boiling the water and heating up the sauce, I had Taylor roll the dough on a cutting board that was lightly dusted with flour to a thickness of about 1/2".  We then cut it into squares and placed the squares on a cooking sheet. Bake the biscuits in the oven for about 12 minutes or until lightly brown. If you want to get fancy you can brush the tops with melted butter before baking.

The trick with biscuits is to use cold butter and to cut it into the flour as I have described. When you do it this way, you get the really flaky biscuits like the picture at the right.

Let me get on my soapbox for just a minute. You might be tempted to say to me that this is not a very healthy thing to eat. But the ingredients in this recipe are simple and fresh, you just cannot eat the entire batch. I admit that in the past, I have just bought the Pilsbury Biscuits from the dairy section and heated them up in the Oven.  And I will concede that they are pretty tasty. However, since I started this site and made my comittment to feeding Taylor fresh food prepared each night, I started reading the labels and considering the ingredients of prepared foods. You cannot convince me that butter is worse for you than articificial ingredients chemically manipulated to simulate a flavor. Flakiness that derives from Xantham Gum and Propylene Glycol Alganate preserved with something called TBHQ and colored with a chemical not identified at the end of the day is not good. If you start reading the labels of the food that we all eat it will scare you. I am not here to tell anyone what to do. I am just saying that I have absolutely no idea what TBHQ is or whether it is safe.

Okay, I feel better. For dessert we had fresh sliced strawberries, blueberries and pineapples.