27 May 2021

Classic Pot Roast

Classic Pot Roast - One-Pot Comfort Food Dinner / www.delightfulrepast.com

Why am I blogging about pot roast when everyone else is talking summer dishes? Two reasons.

One: Because, though it's nearly June, many parts of the country/world are still experiencing some cold days that call for traditional comfort food like this Classic Pot Roast.

When you make this satisfying one-pot meal for people, they are transported back to their childhoods when mothers and grandmothers cooked things many people now feel they haven't the time to cook themselves.

Although this recipe takes time, most of it is unattended. There are no tricky techniques, but you'll find that careful browning brings out the fullest flavor of these subtly seasoned simple ingredients.

Two: Another reason for posting this now is the recent social media kerfuffle about a popular food website that had stopped adding beef recipes to the site last year and were now formally announcing it, saying "our shift is solely about sustainability, about not giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders. We think of this decision as not anti-beef but rather pro-planet."

Well, I don't get involved in the politics of food—and I don't get self-righteous about my food choices or look down on anyone who doesn't feel the same—but I do give consideration to all that putting food on the table involves.

Classic Pot Roast - One-Pot Comfort Food Dinner / www.delightfulrepast.com

Knowing full well that this is a topic that won't win me any popularity contests—from those who for whatever reason aren't into organic, sustainable, etc, to those who are vegan—I'll repeat here something I wrote years ago:

Though I feel an organic, mostly plant-based diet is more healthful and earth-friendly, I occasionally indulge in a little carefully sourced grass-fed/grass-finished meat from ranches as close to local as possible that practice environmentally friendly agriculture methods and the ethical treatment of animals.

Yes, it is more expensive than conventional supermarket meat, but here are some ways I've found to better afford it:
  • By cutting our meat consumption in half. Most Americans eat more meat than is good for them, so I figure eating the good stuff in smaller portions or less frequently is better for us anyway!
  • I don't buy many "empty calorie" snacks and convenience foods, so more of the grocery budget can go toward whole ingredients.
  • I try very hard not to waste food and have gradually gotten to where I actually waste very little now. And, out of respect for the animals, I make a point to never waste meat.
Anyway ... I'm not here to tell you how or what to eat. You do you, as the saying goes. I'm just here to tell you about what I eat, and how I make it, in case you want to make it too. And if you have me over for dinner, I'm not going to sneer or lecture if you serve me conventional supermarket beef or non-organic imported fruit. You're probably doing other "healthy" or "pro-planet" things that I'm not!

I'd love to get your thoughts on any of this or just about pot roast and comfort food in general. What is your favorite comfort food meal? Is it the same as the one when you were a child?

Classic Pot Roast - One-Pot Comfort Food Dinner / www.delightfulrepast.com

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Classic Pot Roast

(Serves 6 to 8)

1 3- to 4-pound (1.36 to 1.81 kg) boneless chuck roast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons (1 fluid ounce/30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 large (12 ounces/340 grams) yellow onion, quartered and separated
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) lower-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces/59 ml) water, wine, or broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
1 bay leaf
3/4 teaspoon marjoram
1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) baby carrots (or 6 carrots, quartered)
6 medium unpeeled potatoes, quartered (or 8 small, halved)
(I used 16 tiny Yukon golds that averaged 2 ounces each)
4 stalks celery, cut in 2-inch diagonal pieces
Optional: Turnips, rutabagas, parsnips in place of some of the potatoes
(I used a 12-ounce rutabaga*, cut into 8 equal pieces)

* Rutabagas are called swedes in England and neeps, I'm told, in Scotland.

1 Heat 5.5-quart (or larger) Dutch oven; heat oil. Pat beef dry and coat beef with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Brown well on all sides in hot oil, taking about 15 to 25 minutes; transfer to plate. Preheat oven to 300F/150C/Gas2. Add the onion to the pan and cook until browned, about 15 minutes. Add broth, other liquid, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste or ketchup, bay leaf, and marjoram; bring to a boil. Put the meat back in the pan.

2 Cover pan with foil and lid, and simmer in preheated oven for 2 hours.

3 Stir in 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and add vegetables. Cover as before and return to oven for 2 hours. Discard bay leaf. Remove meat and vegetables to serving platter; cover. Thicken the sauce with a little slurry of water and flour or by just reducing it (boiling it down) to your preferred thickness.

Note: Sometimes I make this several hours or a day ahead so that I can chill the sauce thoroughly until the fat rises to the top, remove most of the fat, and then thicken the sauce. The fat could be used in the baking of Yorkshire Pudding.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.


13 May 2021

Burrito Bowls - Carne Molida Burrito Bowls

Burrito Bowls - Carne Molida Burrito Bowls / www.delightfulrepast.com

This post is thanks to the prodding of my friend, Jo, who is a huge fan of
The Bowl. What I like about bowls, besides great flavor, is you can prepare all the components a day or more ahead, then have a wonderful meal on a busy weeknight with no muss no fuss.

It's perfect for make-ahead meals. I put the rice, meat, beans, and corn in microwavable Pyrex 3-cup rectangular storage dishes, put the lid on, and refrigerate until serving time. Put the cold add-ons—avocado, tomato, shredded cheese, sauce, etc—in a separate smaller container.

Burrito Bowls (this image, my watercolor sketch of the avocados) / www.delightfulrepast.com
Couldn't resist doing a little watercolor sketch of the avocados!

I'm thinking ahead to when we might actually be able to have people over again. And the great thing about bowls is they are easily customizable. With everyone eating differently these days, with the right assortment of components you can have something for everyone, whether they're paleo, keto, vegetarian, vegan, pegan, gluten-free, grain-free, whatever.

But this bowl is just rice, beans, corn, ground beef, avocado, tomato, cheese, and a zesty creamy sauce, plus whatever garnishes you like. I chopped the red bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno very finely by hand for the sauce because I prefer that texture; but you could just chop it coarsely if you wanted to throw everything in the blender and make a perfectly smooth sauce.

Are you a fan of The Bowl? I'm pretty particular about tortillas, and unless I'm making my Homemade Flour Tortillas, most of the time I just as soon skip the flour tortillas, so a burrito bowl is perfect for me. What other kinds of bowls do you like?

Burrito Bowls - Carne Molida Burrito Bowls / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Burrito Bowls - Carne Molida Burrito Bowls

(Makes 4 generous servings)

The Sauce

(Makes about 1 cup)

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) finely chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounces/18 grams) finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons (0.625 ounces/18 grams/1 medium, about 3 inches long) jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup (2.45 ounces/69 grams) mayonnaise
Scant 1/2 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) sour cream
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
A bit of water, if needed, to thin the sauce

The Cilantro-Lime Rice

1 cup (6.625 ounces/188 grams) white basmati rice
1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces/355 ml) water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

The Carne Molida

(Makes about 2 2/3 cups)

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon powdered ancho chiles
1/2 teaspoon powdered anaheim chiles
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon crushed red peppers
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound (16 ounces/454 grams) very lean ground beef (or turkey)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
4 teaspoons organic ketchup

The Other Stuff

1 15-ounce (425 grams) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce (425 grams) can organic whole kernel corn, drained
1 1/2 packed cups (6 ounces/170 grams) coarsely shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped tomato, sliced or diced avocado, shredded lettuce, sour cream, white corn tortilla chips

1 In 1-quart saucepan, cook red bell pepper, onion, and jalapeno in olive oil about 8 minutes, until very soft; let cool. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning.

2 In 2-quart saucepan, bring rice, water, salt, and bay leaf to a boil. Reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Let stand off heat, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover, remove bay leaf, fluff with fork, then stir in cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil.

3 In small bowl, stir together sugar, salt and spices. Heat skillet (I use this All-Clad stainless steel 12-inch fry pan), and add oil. If you like, cook a little chopped onion before adding beef to the skillet. Add the beef, breaking it up quite finely and browning it well. (Really well. I mean, I think ground beef that is merely "grayed" rather than browned is seriously unappetizing!)

Note: If using ground beef or turkey with more fat, you will need to drain off the fat once the meat is thoroughly browned.

4 Stir in the seasoning mixture, cooking for a minute to bloom the spices. Stir in the flour, mixing it in well with the meat, cooking for a minute. Stir in the water and ketchup, and cook until water is nearly gone. (This little touch of ketchup is not enough to make the meat taste "ketchup-y;" it's just enough to add a certain something.)

5 Get "the other stuff" ready. Divide ingredients among four bowls or glass storage dishes that hold 3 to 4 cups. You can just eyeball it, but these are the approximate measurements:

The Rice: About 2/3 cup per bowl
The Meat: About 2/3 cup per bowl
The Beans: About 3/8 cup per bowl
The Corn: About 3/8 cup per bowl
*The Cheese: About 3/8 cup per bowl
The Sauce: About 1/4 cup per bowl, at the most

Garnish with: cilantro, tomato, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, pico de gallo, red bell pepper, whatever you like.

* I just use regular cheddar cheese, but a good brand of non-dairy vegan cheese is Miyoko's Creamery cultured vegan farmhouse cheddar.

Disclosure: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon .com and affiliated sites. We are a ThermoWorks affiliate, earning a small commission at no cost to you on purchases made through our links. This helps cover some of the costs of running the blog. Thank you for your support.