It's Friday, I haven't slept in three nights because of constant drama with an ancient furnace that wakes me up shivering three times a night so that I have to trudge out to the garage and reset the pilot. I'm cranky, exhausted, and want a cigarette so badly I'm ready to chew my own thumb off. So no deep thoughts today hmmmkay? :-)
so really, this is what's known as shameless filler because a pot roast sounds really good to me right now. I've done a lot of experimenting with it, since it's one of those dishes that can be stretched over weeks of meals for a single person, or feed a lot of friends. This is the recipe that's evolved through trial and error. I use the oven. A crock pot will technically work but I find it does change the flavor enough to matter.
Jo's Perfect Pot Roast and Beer-tatoes
1 beef roast (duh)
1 pan 2-3 times larger than the roast, with lid
3-5 large potatoes or twice that many baby potatoes (the little red ones are perfect) cut into 1" chunks
1 large yellow onion (vidalia if you can get them) cut into slices or 1" chunks and separated.
2 carrots or 1 cup baby carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 large zucchini or summer squash, sliced
1 red bell pepper or 2 Chile peppers (optional)
3 cubes or 3T beef bullion
4 cubes or 1/4 cup tomato bullion (Hooray for Mexican stores! Yes, you can use tomato paste as a substitute but it isn't quite as good. Look for Tomato bullion in the ethnic section of your grocery store or sometimes with the other bullion in the soup aisle)
1-2 tsp (to taste) ground peppercorns (black or multi)
1 T sweet basil or 2 shredded fresh basil leaves
1 T dried oregano or 1 tsp fresh
2 tsp or 1 clove fresh garlic
2-3 bottles of HoneyBrown or other semi-sweet beer (Bell's has a Cherry Stout that works well) plus, of course, however much you drink while cooking :-)
Place meat in pan (no need to defrost it first), surround/cover with as many veggies as will fit and still allow you to get the lid on.
Add bullion and spices to top and pour beer over all until the pan is 1/2 full.
Cover with lid or foil. Bake at 350F for 4 hours.
Check every hour to see if more liquid (i.e. beer) needs to be added (if the meat is looking dry or there's less than an inch of liquid in the pan) or taken away (if the juicy roast has released it's own and is about to overflow). Either situation is pretty dependent on the quality of the meat you buy, but I can tell you that even the cheapest meat gets tender after cooking in beer for this long!
After 4 hours, remove the lid/foil, baste with pan juices (can be done with a spoon if you don't have a squeegie) or more beer. Check the meat with a fork for tenderness. If it doesn't pull apart easily, add another hour.
When the meat is tender, crank it up to 400F. cook until top is brown, usually another 1/2 hour.
Remove the meat and veggies to separate bowls. You can use the pan drippings for gravy, freeze it for soup stock, or discard.
The alcohol does cook off, for those who think I sound like a complete boozer :-) This freezes well, tastes as good or better as leftovers, and is easy to separate out into tupperware-size servings for hot lunches.
So that's my filler of the day. Now I need coffee.