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Friday, October 14, 2011

A Different Pot Roast

   Remember, a few days ago I told you the story of my husband being a beef man? Well, I guess it has been too long since we've had beef. He has requested pot roast for dinner today. Ahh, pot roast! As a child I despised the mere sound of the words. I didn't so much mind the beef or the potatoes or carrots, but the gravy? Yuk. It always seemed greasy to me. I could not get past the shiny stuff floating on top of the gravy to get to the real beefy part. So, sorry, Mom, I did not like your pot roast. At all.
   Then as a young adult I had the opportunity to have a friend's (okay, an old boyfriend's) mother's pot roast. Of course, hearing what was on the menu, I tried to opt out, but I was not in the position, on this particular day, to bow out gracefully. I was doomed to eat pot roast that day. Oh., bother!
  Arriving at the dinner table I immediately noticed a bowl of egg noodles. Hmm. Noodles? Okay, that's different. Then came a bowl of carrots in a deep orange-colored "sauce". Now that was really different. A platter of meat arrived, it, too looked different than what I had grown up with. Wow, this is pot roast?
   Well, yes, it was a version of beef roasted or braised in liquid in a large pot with carrots and onions, some beef broth, and an entire bottle of chili sauce. What? Chili sauce? I don't like spicy foods (or at least at that point of my life I did not like any spicy things.) I was told not to worry, it is not spicy, but sweet. Sweet?
    Onto my plate comes a large scoop of noodles, two slices of beef right next to it, then the orange-y sauce with the carrots in it was ladled on top. This is definitely not like any pot roast I have ever had before.
   Fork in hand,  I tried the noodles with the sauce first. Hey, that's pretty good! Then the carrots. Wow. Then some of the beef. Holy Moly! Now that is a pot roast I can actually enjoy!
   Have not seen that family in well over 25 years, but I still use their recipe, tweaked it a bit to ensure it gets sweet enough. And I adapted it to the crock pot to make my life really easy.

    Really different Pot Roast

  • 6 large carrots peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths and thick sticks (see photo)
  • 5 lb. beef rump roast, bottom round or chuck roast, trimmed of a lot of the outside fat
  • 1 large Vidalia onion --sliced or chopped
  • 1 cup flour seasoned with a little salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon beef base
  • 1 bottle chili sauce (sorry I use Heinz--I have tried others, just not as good results)
  • 2 bottles (chili sauce bottles) of water
  • Hot cooked egg noodles-go ahead and make your own, its okay!
   Roll the beef around in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven. Add the onions and let them sweat, turn translucent, and begin to brown around the edges. Add the floured beef and brown it really well on all sides.
   While the beef is browning, add the carrots to the bottom of the crock pot. We all know that the vegetables take longer to cook in a crock pot than the meat, right? If the onions start looking like they are going to burn, lift them out with a slotted spoon, leaving behind any grease there may be, but there usually isn't much at this point. Add them to the crock pot, sprinkle in a tablespoon of the sugar.
   When the meat is all good and browned all the way around remove it from the pan and set it on top of the carrots and onions in the crock pot (there won't be a lot of onions anymore--they're there for flavor.) Pour the bottle of chili sauce over the meat and around the sides. Skim out any excess oil in the pan, if there still is any. Add the teaspoon of beef base, and the two bottles of water using the chili sauce bottle. Stir it up well, with the heat on high to loosen any of the browned bits stuck to the pan.Pour this mixture into the crock pot, add the other 2 tablespoons of sugar. Cover and let it cook for 8 hours.
    Here's the carrots:


And the meat going in to the crock pot:


   It might not seem like a lot of juice right at the beginning, but when the meat starts releasing its juices, there will be plenty! You still have to skim off the fat that accumulates on the top, otherwise you will get that "greasy flotilla" shinning across the top. So skim away any clear liquid, it will be orange, but you can tell the difference between the floating fat and the actual gravy. If the gravy isn't thick enough at the end you can use any method you have had success with in your crock pot to thicken it. I have had no success in thickening gravy in a crock pot that worked fast enough for me so after removing the meat, and straining out as many carrots as I can I return the juices to the dutch oven from this morning and slowly add some roux I have made on the side until I get the thickness of gravy my family likes, which is on the thick side.


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