As a child growing up in my house, a typical Sunday went like this: get up just in time to rush around the house getting ready to leave for church, pile into the mini-van for the short drive to church, come home to a delicious home-cooked meal (thanks to mom, of course), and fend for ourselves for dinner. The smorgasbord of crackers, cheese, veggies, dip, and what have you were fondly referred to as “doodads”. I’m not sure who came up with this name, as I now equate "doodads" more with knick-knacks than food, but I do remember looking forward to these “snacky” Sunday night meals. (Now that I think about it, maybe it came from these. Thanks for humoring me and my nostalgia for discontinued snack mix).
On the other side of the spectrum is what I made this past Sunday, a warm, homey beef pot roast; the epitome of comfort food. This is a classic, fool-proof recipe to turn an ordinary Sunday night into something special. It just takes a little bit of planning and preparation. It also requires a long, slow simmer to tenderize the beef and vegetables and allow the flavors to meld. The result is a rich harmony of flavors that taste as good as warm, fuzzy slippers on a winter morning. I must also admit that this recipe reinforces my belief that meat always tastes infinitely more delicious when it has had a long bath in some wine. You don’t need to use your best red for this recipe, just make sure it has some body. However, if you don’t have a half empty bottle lying around, it’s the perfect excuse to pick up a bottle of your favorite red wine.
I was going to write my own recipe, but I usually just combine several recipes I find in a cookbook or on the internet. The best part about this "one pot wonder" is that it is truly hard to mess it up. You cannot cheat on the time though. It really does take several hours on the stove or in the oven or about eight hours if you use a slow cooker. Here is one by Emeril Lagasse that I keep going back to.
If you want to, you can trim down the cooking time by cutting the meat into chucks first to make a stew rather than cooking the roast whole. Here’s a classic Julia Child recipe from one of my all-time favorite magazines, Food & Wine. I hope they never go out of print like Gourmet did a couple of years ago.
(I apologize that I don't have a photo this time. Must work on keeping a camera on-hand in the kitchen). This is an invitation to send me photos of your pot roast if you decide to try one of these recipes or make up your own. Happy cooking! And as Julia would say, bon appetit!