Tag Archives: Really Good Food

Pot Roast with an Italian Twist

I enjoy watching America’s Test Kitchen as well as Cook’s Country on PBS. Both are spin offs from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. They’re all about the food, equipment and the ins and outs of cooking, no commercialism.

One Sunday afternoon, I watched as they made Italian Pot Roast, hmmm, that looked pretty darn good, so I printed out the recipe and there it sat in my binder over the kitchen stove for 2 years.

The recipe calls for a cut of beef that I just couldn’t find here in the middle of the desert, chuck-eye roast, so I went for the always at the ready chuck-blade roast.

This is an easy enough recipe, the thing is, my pot roasts come out terrible! So I made no other alterations, and followed the instructions as set forth:

*This is my adaptation from Cook’s Country TV*

3 ½ to 4 pound chuck roast

2 Tbsp. Oil (olive or canola or vegetable, no matter)

1 medium Onion, chopped

1 rib of Celery, chopped

1 lb. Crimini Mushrooms, quartered

2 Tbsp. Tomato paste

1 15oz. can diced Tomatoes (I use no salt-added)

½ C. Tomato sauce (any kind will do)

2 tsp. sugar

½ C. water

1 C. light, sweet, Red Wine such as a beaujolais or merlot (it doesn’t need to be expensive, I got Trader Joe’s merlot for $3.99 and it taste good too)

1 head of garlic, paper skin removed & cut horizontally

½ tsp. each dried Thyme and Rosemary (recipe calls for a sprig, but I only had dried)

Italian Pot Roast, the cast members

Preheat the oven to 300⁰

Pat the meat dry and season with S&P

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat, just until you see a wisp of smoke. Brown the meat on all sides and set aside on a plate.

Lower the heat to medium and sauté the onion, celery mushrooms and paste, just until the veg is barely tender. Add in the canned tomatoes, sauce, sugar, water and ½ cup of wine, garlic and thyme; stir well and added back in the meat with all of the juices.

Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the pot tightly with tin foil and then the lid, put the pot into the oven to cook until the meat is fork tender, maybe 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours, turning the meat over in the pot after 1 hour.

leave the meat to rest IN THE POT that was my mistake until now

When done, remove the lid and foil and leave the meat in the juices to rest for 30 minutes, skimming any fat off after about 20 minutes. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and tent with more foil. Remove the garlic head and set aside.

Add the remaining ½ cup of wine to the pot and bring to a boil of medium-high heat on the stove top and cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10-15 minutes. Squeeze the now soft garlic cloves out of the papers on a plate and mash to a paste; add the rosemary and garlic to the pot and stir until fragrant.

Serve.

Italian Pot Roast

It was wonderful with roasted potatoes and veggies!

the finished product on the table

Here’s something that I learned: you know those cans of tomato paste that never get used up in one recipe?  I put the rest of the can into freezer zip bags in tablespoon portions and freeze it for later.  Why pay the big bucks for the stuff in a tub?

call me cheap, I freeze tomato paste from the can

ALOHA!

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Hope You Had A Happy Thanksgiving

Some years back, I would watch FoodNetwork every holiday season to get ideas for our family’s table.  I saw Ted Allen make a De-constructed Turkey and wow, the bells and whistles went off in my head.  I’ve struggled with whole birds for many, many years.  Dry white meat, under cooked dark meat, crummey gravy… Do I really need to go on?  You know!  This is how I make a whole turkey.deconstructed turkey

Deconstructed Turkey and Gravy

• 10-12 lbs. Whole, fresh, natural Turkey (read the labeling, make sure it does NOT say enhanced with sodium soultion)

Butcher the bird yourself (or purchase it in parts), leaving breast whole and reserve the carcass for homemade stock, much better!

Brine: (I do this part the day before I’m going to serve the turkey)

• ½ C Kosher Salt

• 1/3 C Brown Sugar

• 1 Onion, sliced

• 1 Carrot, sliced

• Peel (no white pith) from 2 Oranges

• Whole head of garlic, cut in half horizontally

• 1 tsp each, dried Thyme, Rosemary, Rubbed Sage

• 3-4 large Bay leaves

In my 12qt. stock pot, I add the salt and sugar, dissolve in 2 cups of hot tap water; add remaining ingredients, along with 3 quarts of Ice Water, stir well. Add the turkey parts (make sure that the water covers all parts of the bird), cover and refrigerate for 8 hours. Pour off all of the brine, leaving turkey parts in stock pot. Cover and put back into the `fridge until ready to roast.

Roast:

Pat turkey parts dry with paper towels, arrange on the half sheet pan, fitted with a cooling rack. Try to give as much space between pieces. Schmear with soft butter; sprinkle with S&P. Pour about 1 cup of turkey broth or stock in the bottom of the pan.

Roast at 425⁰ for 30 minutes, until just starting to brown; lower the temp to 400⁰ and cook for another 30-45 minutes, until the breast reaches 165⁰ and the thighs are 175⁰.

Tent with tin foil until ready to serve.

Make the gravy by pouring all of the juices left on the bottom of the pan into a cup.

In a saucepan melt 4 tbsp of butter; add 4 tbsp of flour whisking for a few minutes. Slowly stream in 2 cups of the broth/juices and bring to a boil to thicken. For richer gravy, use some dry white wine and milk with the broth/juices.

Happy Thanksgiving

I Didn’t Quite Get This One Right

When I take my mother to lunch at her favorite Taquería, she orders the pork chili verde, ever time! I figured I needed to make some for her at home.

I emailed to my chef-friend Joey for guidance; she recommended that I follow any Rick Bayless recipe. I did several internet searches and the easiest recipe I found was from Rick Bayless.  Thanks Joey!

ingredients for chili verde

I actually morphed a few different recipes into my own using a jarred salsa verde made with tomatillo. If I made my own from scratch, it would have cost me a whole lot more and I just wanted to experiment with this idea first.

The rest of the cast of characters were a small onion, oregano, coriander, ground clove, lots of minced garlic and S&P to season the Pork Butt, about a pound and finally homemade vegetable broth.

I browned the pork chunks, set those aside and then sautéed the onion. Next, in went the spices and the meat was returned to the pot with the salsa and broth.

pork chili verde

The pot was left to simmer most of the day, until the pork was fork tender.

Meh, it was pretty salty, but I think that was because of the jarred sauce.

After conferring again with Joey, she concluded that I try it next time with canned salsa verde rather than the jarred stuff.  Now we know, we’ll try it again mom.

Let’s Try This Again

I’ve tried to replicate the cake pop that I had a few months back in Scottsdale, but…

This time I had a Rum Cake in the freezer, why not give it another shot. I had a package of vanilla flavored Candy Melts and more sprinkles.

DH loved these, me, not so much. WAY  too sweet for me.

Oh well.

Turkey Day Is Coming, Are You Ready?

In my X number of years in the kitchen, believe it or not, I have never brined anything. Well, let me say that I did once, unfortunately I brined a turkey that already had 8% salt solution enhancement, ACK!  It was a Thanksgiving of side dishes only that year, so I never tried it again, until now.

All of the turkeys or parts thereof, that I have prepared I’ve just chucked into the oven and said a pray, oh please kitchen gods, let my meal be good this once? Recently, I have been buying Jenny-O turkey breast tenderloins that are already flavored. It took me till now to look at more than the calorie count. MAN!

So back to the basics.

I searched the `Net, looking for a brine recipe that I,

a) had all/most of the ingredients for, and

b) sounded tasty

I settled on my own twist of a Bon Appétit recipe, with a few changes due to the lack of certain items.

I left out the Allspice, Juniper berries and fennel seeds, didn’t have `em; I used dried thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, 4 smashed garlic cloves and a palm-full of whole black pepper corns. In addition, rather than using fennel bulbs, I added the peel (with no pith) from a fresh orange, subbed the white sugar for brown and boy howdy! Let me tell ya’ friends and neighbors, that solution smelled mighty fine!

I had a fresh bone-in half turkey breast weighing a little more than 2 pounds. I gave that puppy a good wash and dunked him into my largest dutch oven containing the brine, covered it and stashed the lot into the ice box.

After reviewing the procedure yet again, I started to second guess myself, how long is ‘leave overnight’? 8 hours, 10 hours, 12 hours? When I Goggled that, the consensus was 8 hours.  I pulled my turkey from its bath, gave it a rinse, patted it dry, discarded the now used brine solution, wiped out the pot and put the birdie back in and covered it back up… Into the chillbox until morning.

In the am, after my usual cuppa Joe, I preheated the oven and prepared the turkey for roasting.

homemade polutry seasoning

I brushed it all over with melted butter and put together my own poultry seasoning in my mortar and pestle. Dried parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme… hey, isn’t that a song? … and savory.

Not having a rack small enough for such a meager amout of protein, I placed three ribs of celery in my quarter sheet pan and the bird atop those. Finally some Sea Salt and freshly cracked black pepper and into the oven with him!

Oh My GAWD!

Juicy, moist, savory, just gosh darn delicious if I do say so myself.

This was lunch as well as dinner for the two of us, well and lunch again the next day all for less than $5

Turkey isn’t just for the holidays or big family events. This can be an economical meal anyday.

Man, That Was Some Trip!

this is going to take all day!

I’d say I had some laundry to do! No really, we did laundry along the way on our month long adventure, this is just what we had when we finally rolled back home.

Mostly, I’m just itchin’ to get in the kitchen and cook something tasty. On the bottom of the deep freeze I found this huge steak and I remembered a dish that my SIL made for us once and it was so good.

steak pizzaiola

Steak Pizzaiola

I don’t have a written recipe for this, it’s a simple steak in a beautiful tomato, garlic and anchovy, yes I said anchovy, sauce. I am not a fan of little fish on my pizza, but in a sauce, YUM!

I used a 28 ounce can of San Marzano whole tomatoes that I crushed by hand in a bowl. Next, in a large skillet, heat olive oil til it smokes; brown the steak and set that aside. Sauté a small onion and as much sliced garlic as you like (we like a lot, I think I used 5 or 6 cloves). Add 4 or 5 anchovy fillets to the pan, adding more oil if needed, and the fish will MELT, really! Add the crushed tomatoes, along with about a teaspoon of dried oregano; give a good stir and add back the steak. Bring to a simmer and cover; cook for about 30 minutes (this was a pretty thick cut of meat), or until the steak is cooked to your tables preference.

I’ve seen other recipes that add wine, peppers and mushrooms. If that’s something that you think that your family would enjoy, by all means make this dish your own.

steak pizzaiola and pasta

 ENJOY!  We did

Taco Night Out

Sometimes, and I stress sometimes, my husband will give in and take me and my mother to eat Mexican food here in the middle of the desert.

On this outing, I offered mom the choice of restaurants and her pick was Blanco Tacos + Tequila.

YUM!

Even though DH says that he doesn’t care for Mexican foods, there are quite a few dishes that he will eat.

grilled mahi tacos with rice and corn

Three grilled Mahimahi soft tacos and instead of beans and rice, our super wait staff brought him roasted corn on the cob and their blanco rice. DH was happy with his dinner.

four mini hard shell tacos

Mom and I both ordered the special Summer menu of four mini tacos (oh and I added on a white sangria, thank you very much).

These were hard shell tacos stuffed with four different goodies. Chipotle shrimp, braised short ribs, guacamole and spicy ground beef.

We’ll be back!