Friday, October 21, 2011

Yankee Pot Roast from New England Home Cooking

True New England cuisine is not a work of art.  It is full of rich, hearty flavors, stick to your ribs ingredients, and, perhaps most of all, heart.  So much of New England cooking was created to sustain the men as they set out on fishing trips, spent long days on the farm, or, you know, founded the country.  Those are some hunger inducing tasks they had in front of them.  So the meals they required included good meats, potatoes, hearty biscuits, and savory gravies.  This is the food this country was built on, and though it isn't always pretty to look at, it is some of the most beautiful food out there because of what it stands for. 

A couple of weeks ago I was sent a copy of the New England Home Cooking Cook Book.  The day I received it, I ripped open the package and immediately began flipping through- my excitement was palpable.  Since that day I have read through countless recipes, as well as their accompanying stories, and was comforted by the rich history and culture that New England is based in.  Finally I had the opportunity, on one of these fantastic chilly days to make the Pot Roast outlined in the book.  A perfect, warming, slow meal.  

Yankee Pot Roast with a Fresh Face, from New England Home Cooking
Serves 6-8

1 4-lb piece of beef chuck, rolled and tied if necessary
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
6 carrots, peeled and cut in sticks about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
4 parsnips, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch thick slices
2 cups frozen pearl onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tbsp chopped fresh thyme, plus sprigs for garnish

1.  Sprinkle the meat generously with salt and pepper on all sides.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven.  Brown the meat over medium-high heat, turning so that all sides are seared, about 10 minutes.  Remove to a plate, leave the drippings in the pan.

2.  Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Stir in the broth and wine and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring.  Add the bay leaves and thyme sprig and return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, until the meat is tender about 2 hours.  Spoon off the excess fat that has risen to the surface.  (The meat can be cooked 2 days ahead and refrigerated, covered.  Lift the hardened fat off the surface before reheating.)

3.  Cook the carrots in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water for 5 minutes.  Add the parsnips and pearl onions and continue to cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the vegetables saving 1 cup of the cooking water.

4.  Remove the pot roast to a carving board.  Cut the meat across the grain into slices and arrange on a serving platter.

5.  If necessary, stir some of the reserved vegetable cooking water into the gravy to thin it into a smooth, pourable consistency.  Stir in the parsley and chopped thyme and heat through.  

6.  Arrange the cooked vegetables around the meat, spoon the gravy of the top, garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.

I made a few changes to the recipe, and learned a few lessons.  First- make sure your meat is at least basically submerged, and turn it a few times.  My liquid wasn't enough to submerge it and my meat was a bit tough at the end.  Also- I didn't prepare the veggies according to the recipe- I cut down the carrots and parsnips, skipped the onions, and instead cubed 3 red potatoes.  I tossed these in olive oil, chopped rosemary, thyme and garlic.  I roasted them in an 400 degree oven until they were cooked through.  

I also reduced the cooking liquid by boiling it until it had lost about 1/3 of volume. 

The flavors in this dish were fantastic.  The herbs were bright and floral which paired perfectly with the hearty meat and the dense gravy.  I do wish I had added more liquid, or turned the meat a few times, but it didn't ruin the dish either.  Pot Roast is classic.  It is satisfying, heart warming, and comforting.  Pot Roast is one of those meals that will put meat on your bones and send you out prepared into the cold air.      

5 comments:

Megan said...

I just got that book too. I flagged so many recipes to try. This looks really good! I'm making a roast from a different cookbook this weekend, but I might make a side from this book.

crazydehlidiva said...

Yummy, looks good. Have any recipes for sweets and desserts? :D

Check out my blogs, too!

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

Looks perfectly hearty and comforting, just in time for the chilly weather!

Jen said...

This looks like a perfect fall meal.

Wonder of my World said...

nice and nice post

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