Pot Roast for the End of Winter Blues, and BIG NEWS!

Snow Day Food

Snow Day Food

I have been gone a long time, and I have come back and given you pot roast. This winter has been loooong. And it is still cold. I am basically forced to cook this way. And also, as it turns out, pot roast is pretty delicious.

Pot roast is pretty basic, meat, carrots and onions, generally. Cook it for a long time and serve it over mashed potatoes and you have the ultimate winter comfort food. I added a couple things to boost the flavor, but generally, this is fairly standard. I served it over miso mashed potatoes for an extra umami kick, and I was happy. It’s a perfect antidote to the frozen hellscape that was this Boston winter.

I was looking back at a post I wrote over a year ago, with my goals for 2014, and my success rate was about 50%, but they were big ones!! I passed the Series 79 and 63, I went on an amazing vacation last April for my birthday, and we had so much fun, that that random collection of friends from all parts of my life went on vacation together again in October. I saw Shannon more, I DID eat more (real) ramen, I even made it myself! And, because it happened between then and now, even though it didn’t technically happen in 2014, I am counting it – I ran a half marathon! I didn’t think I could do it, but I did, and it was awesome, and I’ll do it again. I have a couple black toenails to show for it, and there were a few days there where the walking was not so great, but I did it. I ran 13 miles. And I kind of enjoyed it. And I think I might do it again…

Which brings me to the big news…who has two thumbs and no more boring office job? This cook! That’s right folks, I’m taking this show on the road (literally, actually, as I am also moving out of my apartment and buying a car.) B&G is now available full time for all your cooking needs!  There’s lots of stuff going on around here and I could not be more excited. Keep your eye on this spot for updates. Big things are coming soon!

What I’m reading: The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison and A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield.

What I am listening to: Taylor Swift – 1989, The Best of Elvis Costello – The First 10 Years, and lots of podcasts.

I’ve missed you all so!

Classic Pot Roast (serves 4)

2-3 tbl canola oil

2.5-3 lbs beef shoulder roast

kosher salt

black pepper

1 large onion, half slivered, half cut in wedges and reserved

1 large garlic clove, slivered

1 tbl anchovy paste

1 tbl tomato paste

1 cup diced tomatoes (I use canned!)

2 tbl soy sauce

½ cup red wine

4 cups beef broth

4 large carrots and/or parsnips, peeled and cut in 2-inch pieces

Heat two tablespoons of canola oil in a large dutch oven or heavy high-sided pot over medium high heat. Generously salt and pepper the roast and brown on all sides until caramelized, 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove the roast to a plate and set aside.

If the bottom of the pot looks dry, add another tablespoon of the oil, and then add the sliced onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat a bit and continue stirring. Add the anchovy and tomato pastes and stir, caramelizing them a bit until they are fragrant.

When the onions, garlic, tomato and anchovy are caramelized, add the diced tomatoes, soy sauce, red wine and beef broth and stir to combine. Add the beef back to the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat. The liquid should be at a low simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for two to two and a half hours, until the meat is tender and the liquid has thickened a bit. Add the carrots and/or parsnips, and the second half of the onion for the last half hour of cooking. Taste for salt and pepper and add as needed!

I recommend serving these over mashed potatoes that you’ve added a tablespoon of miso to (trust, they’re delicious) and a delicious green vegetable of your choosing. (And then maybe stick some leftovers in a grilled cheese.)

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B&G Classics: Chicken Noodle Soup

Wahoooooooo!

That means I passed my test, in case it wasn’t clear. And I am so so glad. That was easily the most stressful thing I have done in a long time. I felt unprepared and I HATE feeling unprepared. It was hard. I woke up this morning and honestly felt like a year had passed since last Friday. But it is over! And studying did give me the opportunity to procrastinate and make lots of soup, so that is nice. Sorry about the three day hiatus, I was going to blog every day to get all the soup in, but Sunday got a little hairy as the test was getting closer, and Monday was for test taking and then bubbly-drinking and yesterday was for the rest of life. But today is soup day again! Specifically, Chicken Noodle. There are a million ways to make it, but the gist is chicken vegetables and noodles in chicken broth. (I mean, there probably aren’t a MILLION ways to make it, but you know what I mean.) This is a pretty basic, classic version. (This one is classic with a twist and I am DYING to try it. Related: have you guys ever checked out Sweet Paul? It is GORGEOUS.)

A cure for what ails you

A cure for what ails you

This version is perfect for post-chicken dinner leftovers. The key is homemade stock. While I suppose it is not technically necessary, I am saying it’s necessary. You are going to be so happy with yourself if you use homemade stock. It will be infinitely better. Truly. There are plenty of times where homemade stock isn’t that noticeable because of other things that are going into the soup, but this is not one of those times. (STOCK REMINDER: put six lbs of chicken backs in a large pot and cover with water. (Use wings or legs if you don’t collect chicken backs in your freezer/can’t get them from your butcher or grocery store. Pro-tip – ask for them at your butcher or grocery store. Whole Foods often has them packaged with the other chicken for .99 a pound. Way cheaper than you’ll pay for wings.) When the water boils, take the chicken out, dump the water (and the sludge that will come along with it) rinse out the pot, and add the chicken back in with two onions peeled and cut in half, three carrots peeled and cut in large pieces, three celery stalks peeled and cut in pieces, a head of garlic sliced in half width wise, two or three bay leaves, a handful of fresh parsley, some black peppercorns and a good dash of salt. Cover with a ton of water (I use a 12 quart pot and fill it close to the top.) Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, simmer for two to four hours or as long as you are hanging around the house, strain the solids out, and voila! Chicken stock! Let it cool, skim the fat off the top and use what you need and freeze the rest!)

Other than the stock and the leftover chicken, I like onion, celery, a little bit of garlic, carrots, egg noodles and dill. And that’s it. Soften the vegetables without browning them. Add the stock, bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are soft. Add the egg noodles and the chicken, cook until the noodles are done. Add the dill, voila! That’s it. It all happens in about half an hour, which is pretty funny, considering Chicken Soup is the quintessential comfort food. It seems like the quintessential comfort food that cures all ills and is essentially a word that has come to symbolize home itself should be an undertaking of some sort. But it’s not. Go forth. Make soup.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup (Makes a lot)

2 tbl olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and chopped

3 carrots, peeled a chopped in half moons

3 stalks celery, peeled and sliced in half moons

1 large clove garlic, minced

8 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked, shredded chicken

4-6 oz egg noodles

1 handful dill, chopped (optional, but I recommend it!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add all the vegetables and saute until they are soft, without letting them brown. Add the chicken stock, bring the soup to a gentle boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the chicken and the noodles, and cook for another five or six minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Add the dill, taste for salt and pepper and add as needed, and serve! (IF you are planning on freezing or bringing this to someone’s house, or saving it for later, and you are worried about the noodles getting too mushy, leave them out at this point. Or take some of the soup out for freezing or transporting and just add the appropriate amount of noodles to what you are going to eat now, and add the rest to the defrosted/transported/saved part, so they don’t get mushy!)