Feb 28, 2010

beef pot roast

Last night we finished the last of this meal.  I won't say it was the best roast I've ever eaten because I would probably offend some family members, so lets just say it was at the top of the list.  This roast was juicy and flavorful, and the vegetables turned out just right.  The trick to make this meal during the week was the use the the slow cooker.  Seriously, I made it on Thursday.

I don't use the slow cooker that often, but the recipe sounded so good when I was planning my menu last week that I thought I would give it a try.  Mind you this would have been an expensive error if it hadn't worked.  Ha! Thankfully I didn't even have to go there.

So a couple things to keep in mind if you want to do this, and for me next time I get the urge, it does take a bit of preparation ahead of time.  The slow cooker does it's magic though and by the end of the day you basically have a complete meal as soon as you walk in the door.  Wow, now that is worth the extra morning effort in my book.  Alternatively if either a) you can't fit it into your schedule to prep in the morning, or b) you don't have a slow cooker, I recommend this recipe using the normal heavy pot or Dutch oven to cook the roast, and just be sure to be there for the better part of an afternoon in order to give it time to slowly cook through.

beef pot roast
adapted from The Art of Simple Food

3 lbs grass-fed beef chuck roast
2 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 leek, trimmed, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 carrots, peeling and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 celery stalks, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, halved
4 thyme sprigs
1 parsley sprig
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
water or broth
4 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and cubed

(below are the slow-cooker instructions, please make the necessary adjustments if you are using a pot or dutch oven)

The night before you want to cook the roast, season with salt and pepper.  Cover and refrigerate until an hour before cooking.  Also chop up the onion, leek, 1 carrot, 2 celery stalks, and the garlic, cover and refrigerate until the meat is ready to cook.

In the morning heat the olive oil in a heavy pan (not the slow cooker). Carefully place the roast in the pot, making sure the oil is evenly spread.  Brown the roast for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Add the butter to the pan and while you turn the roast sprinkle the flour on all sides, continue to brown for another couple minutes on each side.

Turn the slow cooker on low and add half of the chopped vegetables.  Place the browned meat in the slow cooker and top with the remaining vegetables, thyme, parsley, and bay.  Pour in the wine and then enough water or broth to almost cover the meat, let a little show at the top.  Cover, and let cook on low for 7-8 hours.  (If you are not using a slow cooker you can follow the same steps up to this point, then bring the liquid to a simmer,  cover and adjust the heat on low until the meat is tender).

Once the meat is done, in a separate pot of salted boiling water add the remaining 3 chopped carrots, celery, and the potatoes until tender (AC note: this took about 25-30 minutes).  While the vegetables are cooking, take the meat out of the pot and keep it warm while you strain the cooking liquid, pressing down on the vegetables through the strainer to get all of the juices.  Discard the cooking vegetables.  Allow the liquid to settle and skim well.

Return the liquid to a pan (AC note: I used the same pan that I browned the meat in that morning) and bring to a simmer.  Slice the roast (AC note: when using the slow cooker method the meat really just fell apart, so be careful not to slice the pieces to thin) and put it in the pan with the juices, add the separately cooked vegetables, bring to a simmer and serve hot.

stats: this made enough for 4 large servings, and took 40 minutes of actual prep time and 8 hours of cook time (slow cooker version)

It was so flavorful and not dry at all.  I served this with a little bread on the side, a nice salad or some mashed potatoes would also be nice. 

happy Sunday,

Feb 24, 2010

tangerine ice cream

Yes. That's right, not sorbet, or sherbet, but yummy creamy citrusy Ice Cream! Yum!

First though, a note about the beurre blanc sauce from yesterday...can I just say I love saying that. Beurre blanc. So I thought when I re-heated it for dinner tonight I would snap a couple photo's and to post along with it. Alas, beurre blanc does not re-heat. I put it in the double broiler and warmed it but it just wasn't the same consistency and the longer I cooked it the more it didn't like to be re-heated. Note to self: try just doing half or a quarter of the recipe next time so that I only make enough for the meal when it is being served. It was still good tonight, but definitely not the same. Kind of a downer really considering after dinner last night I have been looking forward to this all day.

But I do have yummy tangerine ice cream to look forward to for dessert. When making the custard for ice cream, I'm learning that you have to be quick, so I didn't get many pictures. I don't actually have an ice cream maker myself, but my fabulous neighbors let me borrow theirs which attaches right onto the Kitchen Aid, it's brilliant.

This ice cream turned out with just a hint of citrus flavor and specks of orange from the grated tangerine. It is rich and smooth, like the best home made ice creams, and it plays on the citrus flavors that are in season right now.

tangerine ice cream
adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts

3 or 4 tangerines (depending on their size)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 egg yolks (I saved the whites for use later this week)
2 cups whipping cream (Note: 1 pint = 2 cups)
a few drops of vanilla extract

Start by washing the tangerines. Remove the peel from 1 tangerine with a vegetable peeler, being careful not to take any of the white pith. Grate the rind of 2 more tangerines and set aside. Juice all tangerines and measure 5-6 tablespoons of juice and set aside.

In a bowl place the grated rind, cream and juice and place a strainer on top, in ready position.

Place the grated peel, sugar and half-and-half into a non-corroding saucepan and heat just to boiling. Remove from the heat and let steep for 5-10 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks to break them up and pour the warm half-and-half mixture into them, whisking constantly. Return to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the spoon (ac note: be careful here, it can go from coating to cooked eggs quickly so be sure to keep your eye on it).

Pour the egg mixture through the pre-set strainer into the cold cream mixture. Whisk and add vanilla to taste. This is the custard for your ice cream. Chill the custard completely before using the ice cream maker. All this can be done a day before you want to freeze the ice cream. Freeze according to the instructions with your ice cream maker, pack into an airtight container and freeze.

stats: makes 1 quart, took about 30 minutes without the freezing the ice cream, total time 50 minutes.

I think this would be nice served with some light cookies, like a tuile, or some madeleines.


Feb 20, 2010

beurre blanc

Tonight I made Steamed Sole with Beurre Blanc. When I close my eyes I'm still thinking of it. A simple white fish (I think, I never make fish so I don't know for sure) and uber yummy butter wine sauce. I mean really, can that be bad. Um, all you non-fish eaters (like my hubby) don't answer that. Lets just say I was in lala land with this dinner. No pictures tonight, though I got enough fish to make it again tomorrow and will plan to snap up a couple. Looking at the recipe it seemed like it would be kind of bare on its own so I made it with wild rice and a simple salad on the side.

Would I do anything different next time. No, I thought it was just right, and pretty quick once the sauce was made. And I finished the night with some "no-fail chocolate chippers" from a bon appetit recipe that I made last night, a glass of white wine and that move The Waitress with Keri Russell. It was on TV and I'm a sucker for any movie where there are baked goods and romance involved.

beurre blanc (warm butter sauce)
from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

2 shallots, diced fine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
a few black peppercorns
a pinch of salt
14 tablespoons butter (1 3/4 sticks), cut into small pieces (I used 13 T. and don't really think it made any difference)

Bring to a boil in a small heavy-bottomed pot the shallots, vinegar, wine, peppercorns, and salt. Cook until the liquid is almost completely gone, reduce the heat as the liquid cooks down. Remove from the heat when the shallots are still moist but not floating in liquid. (Note: the recipe says that this can be done far in advance.)

Put the pan on very low heat and bit by by whisk in each piece of butter. Wait until each addition is mostly melted and incorporated before adding more (this took the most time, but was well worth the effort). The sauce should be warm while the butter is being added but not to hot or to cool, or it will separate, so be sure to monitor the heat. Once all the butter has been incorporated, taste for salt and add more as needed. Thin with a splash of fresh wine, some broth, or even water; the added liquid helps keep the sauce from breaking or separating and makes it lighter.

Strain if desired. Serve immediately or keep warm in a double broiler over warm, but not hot, water, or in a warmed thermos. (I put mine in a glass bowl, quickly rinsed out the pot that it had been cooked in, put a couple inches of water in the pot and then put that back on the stove on low-medium heat. I placed the bowl full of sauce over the simmering water while I cooked my fish, and had no separation issues.)

If anyone has any suggestions for other uses for beurre blanc please do send them along. I'll have to do some research. It seems like a very Julia Child thing to make so I should probably start there.

happy cooking...