I did not actually find the cut of meat I was after. I guess this butcher calls things whatever he wants. I may have to go to the official meat market and take a photo of what I am looking for.
I also discovered that my Dutch oven is missing. I don’t know how a person can lose a giant pot like but I have. My next closest pot with a lid was the same size as my raw roast and had me thinking that there was no way I could get all the veg in there as well as the meat. No, I did not take into account that the meat was going to shrink. At this point I am starting to get frazzeled. I have the wrong meat, no pan, stupid twine that I don’t need and a boat load of chopped veggies. My poor husband, he was just trying to do his homework and I am flopping around the kitchen like a landed fish so he suggested that I get myself a beer, he knew that if I left the kitchen for a minute I would be able to figure something out and as usual he was right! I have a roasting pan, heavy duty aluminium foil and a giant baking sheet!!
Having secured the cooking vessel I decided I was ready to dive in! I wanted to stay as true to the recipe and instructions as I could so I set my roasting pan on the stove over my medium sized burner and got busy. I softened up the onions, got a little color on the carrots and shoved them to the other end of the pan and seared my meat on the top and bottom sides even tho the directions don’t call for this, I know that any tasty bits that can be developed in the pan before broth and wine are added will add extra flavor to the resulting gravy. Once I got a little bit of brown on the bottom of the pan I took the roast out, added the wine first and let that sizzle up the bits for a minute before I added the broth, then I made a nest of the onions and carrots and set the meat on top of it.
In the chaos of the lost pot I had set the oven to 350 which was too high so I knocked it back to 265 because I didn’t want it to take 4 hours. We will come back to this. I wrapped the pan with the foil, got it as tight as I could as the directions stress the need to keep all the moisture in the pot and put my giant baking sheet on top for a lid and pitched it into the oven. I set the timer for 1 hour and went on about my evening.
Let’s talk about how I thought that since my roast was half the size so it would take half the time to cook. First, I have never on purpose cook any kind of meat to an internal temp of 210F. Second, if you are constantly opening the oven and checking the meat it will never cook. On the first point, since I was at a higher temp and using a smaller meat I assumed it would not take 4 hours. After the 1 hour timer went off I pulled the meat and it was at a respectable 160F which is halfway to where it needed to be so I added my carrots and taters-I forgot about parsnips when I was shopping- and the rest of the broth. I also forgot to add the balsamic vinegar. What I also discovered was that my meat had shrunk! It was about half the size as it had been raw. I did not immediately panic because I was thinking that I was just feeding the hubs and I and if we didn’t end up with leftovers it would be OK. Did I mention that I forgot everything I knew about cooking and what the directions had said when I realized I didn’t have the proper pot? Well I did. I added my veg, wrapped my baby back up and got it back in the oven as quick as I could so I wouldn’t lose all of the steam and stuff that was going on under the foil. I set the timer for 45 minutes because I wanted to add mushrooms but didn’t want them super soft. When the second timer went off I was so excited! I was ready to fork this meat and have it go all the way thru just like the directions said it would. Much to my surprise the fork did not glide thru my meat! I checked the temp and we weren’t even up to 200F yet. The worry set in for real. My meat was smaller! My temp was higher! My meat had shrunk so much! I just knew that I was going to end up with a puck of meat in a sea of too soft veggies. And to top it all off, the kid came home with a friend! Now I have an undersized, under cooked puck of meat and 4 mouths to feed. I went to the cupboard and found a box of black beans and rice and got a smoked sausage from the fridge and started a back up meal!
I was battling all of my instincts to pull the meat but because the bible had said to cook it to temp and then keep cooking it I let it be. Sort of. Every 20 minutes after that 2 hours I was checking the temperature and that meant that I was pulling it out and lifting the foil and letting all the steam and moisture out faster than it could really get busy making more. By hour 3 I was resigned to having enough dried out meat that I would make the sacrifice of eating along with the stupid soggy veggies but it was finally up to 205F and the family had eaten back up dinner so I decided to crack another beer and trust that the book was right and that I was not.
Since the hour 3 check had the meat at 205F I finally realized that if I just left it alone the whole cook it to done and then cook it more bit could maybe actually happen. I spent the next hour pacing and peering in the window as if I could see into the very tightly wrapped pot and tell what was happening and drinking 2 more beers and feeling sorry for myself for having to eat puck meat. My long suffering husband was at this point trying to play a computer game and the kids had settled in with a movie and I was just flapping about making everyone nervous. Flapping and starving for an hour!
Hour 4 arrived at 7:45 p.m. By this time I am resigned to having once again created a lackluster pot roast but too hungry to really care. With my heart in my throat I pulled the pot and unwrapped it. To my amazement the meat was not a dried out husk! The fork did go almost all the way thru! The carrots were beautiful! The mushrooms were perfect! The potatoes still had some bite! Oh, I didn’t use the russets cut into cubes instead I used a bag of those little whole potatoes that are a mix of purple, red and white. Since everything was surprisingly OK I went ahead with the gravy. I poured it into the fat separator and let it sit for a minute and that is where I stopped following the directions. I didn’t want to get out the blender so I made a cornstarch slurry with a little bit of the pre gravy instead of water. I also wasn’t really worried about how many cups of liquid I had left but I know we like gravy so I used everything that came out of the cooking pot and the last half cup of broth that was left in my carton and I also realized that I not only forgot to add the tomato paste way back at the beginning, I also forgot to buy any. I was thinking that it was more of a thickening agent than a flavoring agent so I substituted in red pepper paste and got that up to a simmer. While the gravy was getting up to simmer I sliced the meat! It cut so beautifully. More like hunks than slices but not dry or husk like hunks, these were magazine cover hunks! The only thing these glorious hunks were lacking was salt so I liberally sprinkled both sides of the hunks and wrapped them back in the foil and stuck it in the oven while I finished the gravy.
All said and done, I will find the proper cut of meat and I will get more of it than I think I need and I will leave it alone while it cook and cooks some more. I will also use more salt on my raw meat than I think I need. I can’t promise that I will use the blender for the gravy part because I have figured out how to use just enough slurry to make a nice, silky gravy that has just the right amount of cling to it and we all know that gravy has to have a bit of cling to it or it isn’t gravy it’s sauce.
I hope ya’ll had more luck than I did but if you didn’t then that is OK! You see that I paced and flapped for an hour over this one. Tonight I am going with Corn Chowder, I need a break from the joys of trying new things!
Thanks ya’ll! Happy cooking!