Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Foods

I love the feeling of fall approaching. In the Dallas area, fall means temperatures dipping into the 80's instead of the 90's and 100's. Still it makes me crave heartier, slow cooked food and autumn fruit dishes. I'm imagining apple crisps, and poached pears, stews and chili and pot roasts. It also makes me want to can and preserve foods and so I made Strawberry Preserves this morning. I know it's not strawberry season but the berries looked good and it served to fill my need for canning something. They won't be ready to actually go into the jars until tomorrow to be processed, so I will post that tomorrow.

On the menu for today is a Pot Roast which I got ready and put in the oven while watching football. I started by browning 2 onions that were cut in half in a hot pan in olive oil. I browned both sides before taking them out of the pot. I then added 8 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 2 inch pieces and allowed them to brown as well. I removed the carrots and seared a beef chuck roast, simply seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides. I took the meat out and deglazed the pot with a cup of red wine. The meat went back in and some beef broth was added (enough to come halfway up the meat). The browned onions and carrots went back in, along with a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and the covered pot went in a 275 degree oven for 3 hours.

I also made mashed potatoes ahead of time and refrigerated them earlier in the day. I took them out of the refrigerator about an hour before I wanted to reheat them in the oven.

This was the ultimate simple meal to prepare and we ended up with beef that was so tender, I just shredded it with a couple of forks. I served the meat with the mashed potatoes, an onion half, lots of carrot pieces and lots of the pan juices over everything.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman's blog.
The Perfect Pot Roast

3 lb. Beef Chuck Roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole onions
8 whole carrots
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup red wine
2-3 cups Beef Stock
3 sprigs fresh Thyme, or more to taste
3 sprigs fresh Rosemary, or more to taste

First and foremost, choose a nicely marbled piece of meat. This will enhance the flavor of your pot roast like nothing else. Generously salt and pepper your chuck roast.

Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil (or you can do a butter/olive oil split).

Cut two onions in half and cut 6 to 8 carrots into 2-inch slices (you can peel them, but you don’t have to). When the oil in the pot is very hot (but not smoking), add in the halved onions, browning them on one side and then the other. Remove the onions to a plate.

Throw the carrots into the same very hot pan and toss them around a bit until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Remove the carrots to the plate with the onions.

Add the butter to the remaining olive oil and raise the heat to high. Place the meat in the pan and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is nice and brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate.

With the burner still on high, use the red wine (or substitute beef broth) to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom with a whisk to get all of that wonderful flavor up.

When the bottom of the pan is sufficiently deglazed, place the roast back into the pan and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway (about 2 to 3 cups). Add in the onion and the carrots, as well as 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about 3 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Put the lid on, then roast in a 275 F oven for 3 hours.

Remove the meat to a cutting board and either slice it or shred it before serving.

Adapted from Pioneer Woman's blog
Creamy Mashed Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes
6 tablespoons butter
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup whole milk
Salt and black pepper to taste

Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add the butter, cream cheese and milk. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

My rating for dinner:

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