Category Archives: Entree

Want the Perfect Ham? Just Think Slow and Low

My slow-roasted 5.5 lb ham gave me 3 lbs sliced and plenty more meat and a bone for pea soup.

Finally! A totally foolproof way to produce the perfect ham, It is all about cooking it slow and low.

I had saved a 5.5 lb bone-in smoked ham that I purchased last spring from Lilac Hedge Farm and decided that it would make a great centerpiece for my annual July 4th gathering.

Given that cold-sliced made more sense for a picnic sort of fare than ham hot from the oven, I opted to cook the ham the day before, cool it overnight, and slice it the day of the party.

Since I had  a bit of an issue with dry ham with one or possibly two of the three (I had a crowd!) I cooked for Easter, I did some research in hopes of finding a way to ensure a juicy ham with a minimum of fuss.  I can’t find the website now, but someone posted about their friend who owns a diner, saying that the diner owner just puts the ham in a roasting or cast iron pan, covers it loosely with foil, and cooks it for 7-8 hours in a 275 oven. That’s it!

Since my ham was smaller than the one mentioned on the website I was consulting, I started checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer after 4 hours, with the ham reaching a safe 160 degrees or a bit more throughout in close to 6 hours.

Once done, I let it cool on a rack and them wrapped it up for an overnight in the fridge. Even then I could tell it was very moist, but when I carved it into as big chunks as possible and started slicing it on the morning of the 4th, it was confirmed: Perfection!  And it was delicious with no basting – but you can certainly add whatever sort of garnish or glaze that suits your fancy.

I am going to use this method for my Easter holiday meals from now on. For 2017, I have a bone in ham of just over 7 pounds, which will be plenty for my (relatively) smallish guest list of 7 plus my husband and me for 9 at the table. I’ll just pop the ham in the oven around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and let it cook all morning into early afternoon to be ready, cooled a bit, and carved for a 3:00 or so meal time.  And I am already looking forward to some pea soup in the following weeks, too!

Low Stress Method : Turkey Dinner for 12 with All the Fixings

trukey dinnerDo you love to host Thanksgiving for your family and/or friends but find it stressful juggling all the prep work with your already busy life? Are you tired of staying up late the night before, getting up at the crack of dawn on the big day, and never having a chance to just relax with your guests? Here are some recipes and ideas to reduce the stress and increase the enjoyment of the day.

NOTE: This is the “quick and dirty” vers

ion of this post.  At some point I’ll add more pictures and fix any typos, but this version should do the trick.
This plan is contingent on spatchcocking/butterflying your turkey. Doing so will ensure that:

  1. the breast meat won’t get overdone because it will take as long or longer than the thigh meat to cook to safe temperature,
  2. the turkey will cook WAY more quickly than a bird left whole, and
  3. it will be easy to carve.

Here is a great link describing how to spatchcock a turkey:
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/holidays-recipes/article/how-you-roast-turkey

Here are some kitchen shears that enabled me, arthritic thumb joints and all, to cut the backbone out of a 14.5 pound turkey with relative ease:
Kershaw Taskmaster Shears

Okay, here is the plan. (the checklist is at the end of this post)

Do all your major house, bath, and kitchen cleaning the weekend before your gathering.  This is crucial to ensuring less stress!  🙂

Use a locally raised turkey if you can, and in any case, with no brine or other processing. Purchase fresh or give your turkey plenty of time to defrost in the fridge (5 days for a 15 pounder is ample) so that it is ready to prepare two days before your meal date. e.g. Tuesday day or evening for a Thursday  meal.

Two days before the meal, use this recipe:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/pb/recipes/herb-crusted-roast-butterflied-turkey/9646/ and be sure to reserve the backbone, along with the neck, heart, and gizzard, for gravy. 

On the same day or evening, cut two to three butternut squash in half or quarters and roast at 400 degrees until tender and let cool. That night or the next day, peel/scrap/scoop the squash from the peel and mash a bit.  Store in fridge to be reheated with desired seasoning on the feast day. (I find squash to be tasty as is, especially if locally grown, but salt, pepper, butter, nutmeg, brown sugar, etc can all be used to jazz it up.)

If you are making your own cranberry sauce, make it while your squash is cooking.

One day before the feast:

Use this recipe for the gravy. Since you’ll have the neck, too, add an additional cup of water than is called for. No pressure cooker? No worries!  Stove top instructions are included
http://dadcooksdinner.com/2011/11/pressure-cooker-giblet-gravy.html/

Use this recipe for potatoes:
 http://www.cooks.com/recipe/sa67i0r5/mashed-baked-potatoes.html

Tear/cut up 1.5 to 2 pounds of nice, hearty bread for stuffing and leave it out overnight so it dries a bit.

Prep whatever  other veggies (romanesco, green beans, brussels sprouts) so ready to pop on the stove or in the oven the next day. Also, prep any raw veggies for appetizers, make any dips or desserts (or get your guests to bring those sorts of menu items.  🙂

Feast day morning: Make the stuffing!  This is the BEST stuffing:
http://www.justapinch.com/recipes/side/vegetable/polish-cabbage-stuffing-for-turkey.html

Don’t panic at the proportions.  Use these numbers for a 14-15 pound bird:

1.5 pounds shredded cabbage, green and/or red
6-7 oz diced onion
small stalk of celery, diced
12 oz diced apple
1/2 cup butter
1.5 tsp EACH ground sage and poultry season
1/2 tsp each salt and ground black pepper
1.5-2 pounds bread – torn/cubed and dried overnight

Once all veggies are sauteed, put in the roasting pan, mix in seasoning, add the bread cubes, and moisten with about 2 cups broth or water,  but add gradually to make sure you don’t overdo it.

Be sure to start  making the stuffing an hour or so before you plan to put your turkey in the oven. (You could prep the cabbage the night before, if you want.)

1/2 an hour before cooking start time, take the turkey out of the refrigerator and follow turkey recipe instructions, placing the bird over the stuffing right before putting in the oven. Tuck all the stuffing under the bird. Don’t forget to baste with 1/2 the melted butter before putting the turkey in the oven!

[If you have a convection oven with a bake option (versus roast) preheat to 425. Once the bird goes in, turn off then reset the oven to convection bake at 425. Once the oven is back up to temperature, start timing 30 minutes. Then, baste turkey with butter, lower temperature to 375, and start checking the temperature after another 1.5 hours or so. ]

Once the turkey is done and resting, bake the potatoes as directed, heat up the squash in the microwave or oven, and steam, roast, or whatever you are doing with other sides.

Finally get the gravy from the fridge and reheat as directed in recipe.

  • Weekend before – CLEAN, SHOP, pick cooking and serving containers and utensils, etc.
  • 5 days before: take turkey out of freezer if applicable.
  • 3 days before – make your lists, plan any table arrangements, check supplies of dinnerware, serving dishes, etc .
  • 2 days before: prep turkey as per recipe and roast squash
  • 1 day before: make potatoes and gravy as per recipes, prep at least the bread for stuffing and any side veggies, make any dips or desserts, if applicable.
  • THE DAY:
    1st thing: Finish any prepping, and make and cook stuffing and turkey as per recipes.
    While turkey is in oven, take a break, take a shower, or finish any other last minute things.
    Final: While turkey rests, bake potatoes per recipe, reheat squash, cook any other veggies sides, carve turkey, and reheat gravy.
  • SERVE AND EAT.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shrimp and Scallop in White Wine Sauce: Quick and Tasty

2015-06-21 12.22.26I have no idea how I avoided making a white wine sauce all these years. So tasty! So quick and easy! And, the best news is that it goes with all sorts of ingredients, from the the shrimp and scallops used in this recipe, to any seafood, as well as chicken, tofu, veggies, and more.

Here is the link to the original recipe that I found when looking for a new (to me) quick and easy way to prepare the seafood.

Easy Shrimp and Scallop in White Wine Sauce

Below is the recipe with the very few adjustments I made due to not having any chicken base on hand (I added depth with marjoram and extra grated cheese), having fresh parsley available, as well as needing to use up some cherry tomatoes.  I also totally forgot to add salt and pepper, so, while I will most likely add them next time, I did not list them here to keep it true to the experience.  🙂

Here is what I used:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces shrimp (regular, not small)
  • 8 ounces scallops (regular, not small)
  • 1cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1lemon, juice of
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4  tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

Heat oil over medium/high heat, add garlic and onion and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add shrimp and scallops and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add wine, basil, red pepper, and marjoramAllow to simmer 1-2 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted, then add chopped parsley, tomatoes, give a quick stir, then add grated cheese and stir until well blended. Toss with pasta, rice, or serve over a simple salad. 

For dinner, I tossed with organic brown rice ramen noodles, which worked splendidly, but any rice or pasta will work just fine.

I had the leftovers for lunch the next day. We had eaten all the noodles the night before, so I served the remaining seafood mix and sauce over the leftover salad of new lettuce, onion, and more cherry tomatoes that I had served with the original meal the night before.  (We have lots of cherry tomatoes right now, can you tell?)

Oh – don’t forget some good bread for both renditions to soak up the sauce. It is way too good to leave on the plate.

Enjoy!  And  be sure to experiment with ingredients and flavors.

Q Tip:  http://winefolly.com/tutorial/chefs-techniques-for-perfect-white-wine-sauce/

 

 

 

Simply the Best Roast Chicken!

Sometimes simple does it just fine.  Take chicken, for example.You can dress it up, cut it up, marinade it, grill it, and use it in innumerable recipes for soups, stir fry dishes, casseroles, pasta dishes, wraps, and more.  One of the most versatile of foods, it is a staple in most, if not every major cuisine and culture.

But  just tossing a whole chicken in a high temperature oven with a little butter and some vegetables can result in the most delectable meal you could ask for. And that’s what I did last night.

Before

Before – everything right in the pan with no rack.

I usually butterfly chicken, or turkey, for that matter, when roasting in the oven because it results in more even cooking and browning.  If you have never tried it, get yourself a pair of very sharp cooking shears and click How to Butterfly a Chicken for excellent instructions.

In fact, it was the recipe presented in the post linked above by Deliciously Organic blog author Carrie Vitt that inspired my version of roast chicken, sans squash but with potatoes. But, bottom line, you can do this using any number of vegetables and combinations thereof. Just be sure the quicker cooking veggies are cut in bigger chunks so they don’t get overdone during the roasting process.

All I did was put four small potatoes, a few carrots in big chunks and two medium onions quartered in with my 4.5 lb chicken, brushed everything with melted unsalted butter, seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and put it in the oven at 450 degrees for about an hour or so. I used my convection option, but a preheated hot oven will also do the trick. Just be sure to  cook until it reaches to 165 degrees in the deepest part of the breast.

AFTER

After

Cook’s note: if the chicken seems to be getting too browned before it comes to temperature, cover with foil for the last 15 minutes or so.

As you can see, this came out beautifully.  If you click the photo, you will be able to see the resulting juices in the pan – plenty to make a cup or more of delicious gravy to go along with the tender and juicy chicken and the roasted veggies. And that’s what I did.

Like I said, sometime simple does it fine.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Another note: Using amazingly fresh ingredients helped make this dish even better.  The chicken was pasture-raised by Copicut Farms, butchered just a few days before and purchased at the Winchester Farmers Market, and the potatoes and carrots were purchased on the last day of the Wakefield Farmers Market from Farmer Dave’s.  There is NOTHING like freshly butchered pasture-raised chicken and locally grown and dug potatoes and carrots… The onions were from Market Basket – but at least were organically grown. 🙂

What the Hake? It’s really good!

Last week Michelle The Fish Lady (aka Globe Fish at the Wakefield Farmers Market) recommended that I try some hake, a white fish that is similar in flavor to haddock et al.

Always up to trying something new, I got a pound and decided to prepare it in the quickest, most simple way that I have used successfully with other fillets of white fish, which is to coat the fish with flour ( I use whole wheat) seasoned with a bit of salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper, dip it in egg, then do a final coat of a mix  fine and panko breadcrumbs before quickly frying in a  small amount of oil.

Seasoned flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and panko for the crust.

Seasoned flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and panko for the crust.

Honestly, this is such an easy way of preparing all kinds of fish!

Seasoned flour, egg, and breadcrumbs and panko for the crust.

Close up of the floured fish.

NOTE: Be sure to shake off the excess flour and then let some of the egg drip off before moving to the next step.  You do, however, want as much of the breadcrumbs and panko on the fish as will stick.  🙂

Once the fish was coated, I just heated up … I think I used peanut oil, but canola or sesame would work fine… anyway, I heated up about a 1/2 inch of oil until it was shimmering and hot enough to sputter if flicked with water droplets and put the fish right on in.

Fish in the oil

Fish in the oil

I actually cooked the fish longer than I meant to, but basically, since the fillet is thin, you can just cook until crisp and browned on each side.

done!

done!

Although, when I make this again which will be soon because I bought some more this past Saturday, I might just do it this well done on the outside because, as you can see by the next picture, it was perfectly done in the middle.

fished plated with corn

So moist and tasty! Shown with freshly picked corn from Kelly’s Farm.

So good and so easy!  Thanks to The Fish Lady for the fish, Kelly’s Farm for wonderfully crisp corn, and, not shown, Farmer Dave for fantastic potatoes that I sliced thin, coated with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roasted at 400 for about 40 minutes.  And then, there was the salad of greens from Flats Mentor Farm and more… YUM!

A Ham Like No Other – Locally raised is the best!

Steak – Definitely Not Just for Grilling!

My husband would have never agreed with the title of this post before trying steak prepared via a simple stove-top technique presented by Chef Tiffani Faison on NECN earlier this week.

Although we tune into NECN mostly for the weather (we are big Matt Noyes fans), we caught Chef Tiffani’s Valentine Dinner segment and decided to try it for ourselves, albeit putting our celebratory meal off to Friday night. You can see the video, recipe, and the chef’s extra tips by clicking HERE.

I had hoped to get some locally raised beef for this meal, but was not able to get to the Medford Winter Farmers Market on Thursday, so I opted for two strip steaks from Farmland, our local grocery store. [Note to self: talk to Frank about offering locally raised meats at Farmland!]

seasoned steak

This photo is deceptive – these are 2″ thick – although the one on the right was a bit thinner (1 1/2″) on one end.

For this recipe, all you need is:

  • strip steak(s) or comparable cut
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • high quality olive oil
  • garlic cloves
  • fresh sprigs of thyme
  • butter – REAL butter!

Other than that – you need to have a really good pan.  Chef Tiffani recommends cast iron, but any pan with a thick bottom that spreads and hold heat evenly will work just as well.  How do I know? I’ll tell you.  🙂

I had two steaks, but only one of my well-seasoned cast iron pans is big enough  for one steak, never mind two.  But, I also have an All-Clad saute pan… Time to experiment! Good thing Steve knows his way around the kitchen.

pans ready

Dueling pans set and ready to go. 🙂

The first step was to bring the meat to room temperature by removing it from the fridge an hour or so before cooking. Then we prepped each station with a few crushed garlic cloves, a small bunch of thyme, and partially melted butter, as well as a basting spoon and tongs at each site. We put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in each pan and were ready to go.

Steve took his place at the cast iron and and I stepped up to the All-Clad saute pan, and we were off!

Here is the technique, edited down to a few simple bullet points:

  • Season steak with pepper and LOTS of salt
  • Add 2 T oil to pan
  • Turn heat under pan to HIGH
  • When oil is HOT, (smoking is good!) put steak in the pan
  • Baste steak with the olive oil and juices for 3.5 – 4 minutes
  • Flip steak and baste for another 2 minutes
  • Turn off heat and add crushed garlic and thyme to pan
  • Add butter, put garlic and thyme on steak, and baste all with butter
  • Remove steak from pan and let rest for at least 10 minutes.
First one out!

First one out!

Note the lovely crust!  We also did as the chef suggested and used the tongs to hold the steak fat band in the oil to crisp that up, also. Holding the steak so that just the fat is in the oil is also a great way to test whether the pan is hot enough – if it gives a good strong sizzle, it is ready for the steak.

Resting

Resting for just a bit.

While the steak rested, I steamed some asparagus and finished up the potatoes…Oh, I forgot to mention the potatoes!  To accompany, I cut up five or so small red potatoes and half a big Vidalia onion, added around 10 little cremini mushrooms, and tossed them with freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, and a tablespoon or two olive oil in a corning ware casserole. I  also had some thyme to spare…

Roasted potato, crimini mushrooms, and Vidalia onion.

Roasted potato, cremini mushrooms, and Vidalia onion.

I then covered with foil and cooked for about an hour at 400 degrees, obviously starting them well before the steak. Once the steak was done and resting, I removed the foil and kept cooking to crisp up just a bit.

And then, a lovely dinner.  This picture does not do it credit. At all.

plated

Plated – with photo taken after the start of the meal!

We could have done fine with just one steak rather than two, but we did have plenty leftover!  But, in general, one steak weighing a pound or a bit under is more than enough for two.

LOTs of leftovers.  :)

Lots of leftovers!

Bottom line, this is a really tasty way to prepare steak, as well as quick and easy.  And, here is a cleanup tip: Let the pan sit overnight and use some paper towels to wipe out the congealed fat. Then, simply wash as usual if using a stainless steel pan, or, if using cast iron, just soak for a bit in very hot water and then wipe clean.

And, which pan did the best job?  After trying some of the second steak the next day, I can say that they both produced an equally crusty and delicious steak.  So, while cast iron is the classic choice, feel free to use a stainless steel pan providing it has a heavy bottom and can handle high heat.

But, especially if preparing a special meal to share with your honey, I recommend the pan contest, or a least work together to create the entire meal. That will add the best seasoning of all.  <3

Roasted Chicken Quarters with Fennel, Green Onions, and Potatoes

Last Saturday, I could not resist getting a just-picked fennel bulb from Farmer Dave and some lovely big green onions from Flats Mentor Farm.  And, the week before, I had picked up a pack of two big chicken leg quarters from John Crow Farm and had finally remembered to defrost them. (Their meats/poultry come frozen, as do most meats and poultry offered by farmers at farmers markets, at least in the Boston area.)

Green onions and a fennel bulb, pre-trimmed.

I also had some potatoes on hand (organically grown but sadly, not local) and decided to create a meal based on a combination of of a sausage/fennel dish that Steve and I really enjoy and one of our favorite chicken quarter recipes.

This was a really easy meal to prepare.  All I did was peel (optional) and chunk a few potatoes, trim and thick-slice the fennel bulb, and trim the stems and ends from the green onions, then season them with chopped fresh rosemary (dried is fine, too) kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and lightly toss, all right in the roasting pan.

seasoned veggies and ready to add chicken

Veggies ready – now to rub and add the chicken!

Next, I prepared  a variation of the paste/rub from my other chicken quarter recipe, combining a minced garlic clove, chopped rosemary, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and a touch of cumin.  Onto the chicken it went (this is a hands-on operation!) as I nestled the chicken into the veggies.  Oh, I also added a bit over a 1/2 cup of chicken stock before putting into an oven preheated to 425 degrees.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven!

50 minutes later it was perfect, although I did opt to remove the chicken quarters to a small tray and pop them under the broiler for just a few minutes to further crisp up the skin.  I also  drained out the remaining liquid into a small saucepan and added some cornstarch to thicken just a bit before adding back to the veggies, but, while it added a smoothness, it is not necessary to the success of the recipe. Neither is the extra browning, for that matter, but to each his or her own taste or time available.  🙂

This was a really delightful meal, made all the better by the chicken having being raised right here in Massachusetts on a farm that raises its animals in a responsible and healthy manner.

It was so good that Steve and I dug right in before I remembered to take a picture of it plated for this blog.  In fact, I did not remember until the next morning, but you can get the picture (forgive the pun) from this lovely re-creation:

plated

Plated, albeit cold leftovers from the fridge. It still looks (and IS) delicious!

And, that’s it for now.  🙂

Grilled Shrimp and Scallops on a Bed of Arugula and Sliced Peaches

It always amazes me how just a few ingredients can come together and create an amazing bouquet of flavor.  And it is especially fun when it happens due to a “what I have on hand” situation. This particular meal got its start by The Fish Lady (Globe Fish at the Wakefield Farmers Market) having only 1/2 pound of shrimp left by the time I stopped by to shop, so, along with the shrimp, I got 1/2 pound scallops.

The week before, I found and used a really lovely marinade for shrimp to be grilled in their shell.  By the way, grilling in the shell does make for some great flavor!  But this week, I figured I’d peel the shrimp since it would be grilled with the scallops and, as much as I love the flavor of shrimp and scallop on their own, I thought this would be a good time to try adding a bit stronger flavor.

As usual, the Internet came to the rescue with a great glaze recipe that conveniently called for the exact 1/2 pound each of shrimp and scallops that I had purchased. I followed it exactly except for substituting lemon juice and zest for the lime because I didn’t feel like going to Farmland for just a lime!

On the grill before the glaze. I think we’ll forgo the skewers next time!  🙂

Grilled Shrimp and Scallops With Lime-Ginger Glaze

  • 1/2 pound fresh shrimp (de-shelled and de-veined)
  • 1/2 pound fresh scallops
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (about 2 limes) fresh lime juice *
  • Zest from 1/2 lime *
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • skewers
  1. Peel the fresh ginger by scraping it with the edge of a spoon and then grate or mince.  I like to grate the ginger using a micro-planer.  We need about 1 tablespoon of finely minced ginger.
  2.     Mix the honey, soy, ginger, lime juice and zest in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
  3.     Simmer the lime, soy and ginger under low heat for about 10 minutes to reduce to a glaze.
  4.     Preheat the grill to high heat and clean and oil the grates (important to lube up the grates, we don’t want to have to pry off one of those beautiful shellfish!).
  5.     Skewer the shrimp and scallops.
  6.     Place the shrimp and scallop skewers over high heat and grill with the lid open for about 2 or 3 minutes.
  7.     Flip the skewers over to the other side and baste the shrimp and scallops with the soy, lime and ginger glaze.
  8.     Grill for another 3 minutes on the other side and then flip the skewers over.
  9.     Brush the other side with the glaze and then remove the skewers from the grill.  We just want to hit the other side with the glaze, but don’t let them grill too long on the “glazed” side or the honey will burn.

* On the advice I found online, I added just a bit more lemon juice and zest than the amount of lime called for in the recipe and it worked beautifully.  However, I intend to try this with the lime next time to get the full effect.  🙂

Once I determined the flavoring for the seafood, I realized that my original plan of using some just picked tomatoes (from Farmer Dave at our farmers market) would not work, although I was determined to use some of the wonderful arugula I had also gotten at our market that morning from Flats Mentor Farm.

I knew I needed sweet and a bit of tang to go with the glaze and had an AHA! moment when my eyes lit upon the fresh, peaches at perfect ripeness I has also gotten from Farmer Dave that morning.arugula and peach salad

While the glaze was simmering, I rinsed and spun dry the arugula, sliced up some peaches, and put them together, adding a very light sprinkling of lemon juice, rice vinegar, and some freshly ground black pepper.  I meant to add some olive oil but – oh well!  Maybe next time.  <grin> Actually, now that I think of it, olive oil would be too strong a flavor.  Perhaps some canola oil would be nice.

the meal, plated

Plated, fresh off the grill.

Once the seafood was off the grill, I put some salad on our plates and topped with the shrimp and scallops.

To really top it off, while preparing the meal I had just happened to have a glass of Three Sisters White Wine from Charlton Orchards that I had purchased at the market the week before …I t was the PERFECT beverage to accompany!

This was truly an exquisite meal, light but satisfying, perfect for a hot summer evening. And so easy! It just doesn’t get much better than this!

Three Sisters White Wine completed the experience!

Bottom Round Pot Roast with Onion Gravy

I found this recipe in my “keeper” folder but, of course, could not remember much about it…except that both Steve and I must have enjoyed it, hence its place in the “keeper” folder.  Memory like a screen these days…  ANYWAY… I tried it again and am making sure to record things this time.  🙂

Here the recipe from Allrecipes.com, one of my favorite recipe sites, from which I worked: Bottom Round Roast with Onion Gravy

And, here is my take.  First of note is that this is a stove-top dish, although I am sure it would do fine in a 190 or 200 degree oven or in a slow cooker.  If I try it that way, I’ll make note of it here.  But, the nice thing about this recipe is that it CAN be make on a burner.  In fact, when I was about to make this recipe, my oven suddenly defaulted into Sabbath mode and only the burners were working…Thankfully I was able to reset things, but the good news is that I could still have made this dish if the the oven had remained out of order!

But, I digress.  So, here is my take on this dish:

  • 3 or so cups of sliced onions.  (see picture for amount)
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • bottom round roast (I used one almost 3 pounds)
  • salt, pepper, dried rosemary to season roast before browning
  • a sprig or two each fresh rosemary and thyme
  • 1/2 cup Merlot
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used cider)

After cooking the roast

  • another 1/2 cup Merlot
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme and rosemary
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon flour, if needed to thicken

First, I sliced up the onion and minced the garlic.

onions

I used two BIG onions, but in general, one onion makes about a cup, chopped or sliced.

The original recipe was intended as a very easy prep dish, and the reviews indicate that it all tasted great without browning the meat first. But, I wanted to add some extra flavor, so I started off by browning the roast in my dutch oven after seasoning with freshly ground pepper, kosher salt, and crumbled dried rosemary.

I then removed the roast and put the onions, garlic, fresh rosemary and thyme, and Merlot in the pan, turned up the heat, and deglazed the pan, scraping up the brown bits.

deglazing

deglazing with the Merlot and herbs

Next, keeping things simmering, I added the bay leaf,  and sprinkled in the vinegar before placing the browned roast, with the layer of fat up, on the onions.

ready to cook

Ready to cover and cook!

I then covered and cooked for three or so hours.  I used a heat diffuser to make sure nothing burned, but it probably would have been fine without one. But do make sure you use a heavy pot! I kept the burner on low and made sure that I heard just a little bit of sound when I put my ear really close so I knew it was at a low simmer, but didn’t let it stay hot enough to cause substantial steam to be released from under the cover. Basically, you want the temperature to stay under a boil, and preferably around or under 200 degrees. AND, don’t lift the cover until you think the roast is done!

cooked!

And here it is when first uncovered.

My next step was to remove the roast and tent with foil on the cutting board while I finished the gravy, starting by adding the other 1/2 cup of Merlot and simmering until the liquid was reduced by about half.

reduced onions

Look at those onions! Just gorgeous.

I then added the 3/4 cup beef stock (I actually used veal stock, but that is another story!) and the 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme and rosemary, and cooked it down a bit further.

with the Merlot

I took this shot because I wanted to emphasize that a good wine is preferable to a red “cooking” wine, and a nice Merlot is the best choice for enhancing the flavor of the dish, as well as the enjoyment of the cooking process. 🙂  Also, I’d like to note that the wine glass in the picture is the last of the set of four that my best friend Linda gave me years ago. <3

Next, I added the mushrooms.

adding the mushrooms

Adding the mushrooms to the further reduced gravy.

To be honest, I don’t remember if I added any flour to thicken.  Based on my handwritten notes, I don’t think I did.  But, it is always an option if you want to thicken the gravy.

gravy done!

Thick enough!

The final steps: carve the meat, add to the gravy, and plate!

This was a really great recipe.  And truly, using a good red wine was key to it being exceptional.  To end this post, I served the beef with roasted potatoes (chop as shown, sprinkle with seasonings of choice (include rosemary for this menu) and olive oil, and roast at 425 for 45 or so minutes or until done) and steamed broccoli and carrots, as shown. Just lovely.

So easy, and leftovers are even better!  Enjoy!