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Thursday, September 30, 2010

No fuss pot roast...

We all make pot roast, right? At least our mothers did, or of course, our grandmothers. I cannot say that I really recall pot roast in our home. We had casseroles, and things called "Bacon & Cheese Get-Togethers."-Imagine—egg salad, with bacon, topped with cheddar cheese—all paced atop an open hamburger bun, then baked until the cheese was all melty and bubbly. I did love them.
Comfort food in our house growing up had names like, "Chicken & Broccoli Casserole:, or, "Louisiana Shrimp-Bake" mother was a product of Betty Crocker's formative years in the kitchen for the woman who liked to cook. My mother was—and is a great cook. Not fancy, but great. But we never had pot roast. Therefore, as all women are products of their environment (and their mothers) I also do not make pot roast. I really was not sure why, other than I did not grow up with it, and so chatting with a coworker today, we discussed that—if we were to be honest with ourselves, we didn't really 'love' pot roast, while an easy crock pot meal, it could often be very dry. And it's true, while many love it, and it is a quintessential Americana dish—truth be told, it can be very dry.

It is a fairly ‘easy’ dish on the difficulty level of cooking, but it can get fussy. “Sear the roast”, then “sauté the onions” then “add it to the crock pot”…Well, for me—not so much with the fuss sometimes.
So, last week pot roast was on sale, and as I stood at the meat counter in a quandary over, “Should I?” I decided to opt-in and put the roast in my cart.
Not knowing quite where to begin, I decided I would try first with a no-fuss method. Well, it worked great, first try out.
This roast came out juicy—not dry, and tender. The crust was just enough peppery warmth on the tongue to stimulate the senses, and the tomato sauce was thick and rich enough to stick to the succulent chunks of roast. The onions turned sweet and melted in your mouth with each bite. And it took only 7-minutes prep time the night before to have a wonderful meal when I got home the next day.
Here is how it is done:
• 1.5 to 2 lb pot roast
• 1 large onion, cut into a small dice, or just slices
• 1 small can tomato paste
• ½ cup water
• 2 tsp salt
• 2 tsp pepper

Tip: add a few potatoes or sweet potatoes, whole, to the crock pot for a great side dish to go with it. They cook right along with it perfectly.

The night before, line your crock pot with foil (critical for easier clean up). Then, layer on the bottom of the crock pot your onions, then add the tomato paste on top of the onions. Add the water. Place the roast on top of that, and mix together the salt and pepper and press it into the top of the roast—like a crust. Lid and place prepared crock in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, put the crock in the base and turn on low. Mine was on for 10-hours, a typical work day.

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