For me, the first of October has always signified the beginning of autumn and the onset of the holiday season. The few deciduous trees that we have here in California start to show some color and the mornings and evenings show up with a little chill in the air.
Having grown up in Michigan, the fall was always my favorite time of the year… bar none.
Fall also brought some of my most vivid food memories as well. I remember as if it was it was yesterday, trips to the local apple orchard to get warm, powdered donuts right out of the fryer washed down with ice cold cider. It was also a time for the one pot meals that we all loved: chicken and herb dumplings, roast pork with cabbage, and pot roast with mashed potatoes. The great thing about these dishes is that leftovers are so much better the day after, although with 4 brothers and 1 sister there weren’t leftovers very often.
So this season, I thought I’d share some of my favorite rustic, slow cooked dishes.
If you don’t have a crock pot, I would suggest adding one to your culinary arsenal. They make one pot dishes as easy as can be and require little real hands-on cook time, which is always helpful during the busy holiday season.
An old-fashioned pot roast is probably one of most common of American classic comfort foods and my version is cooked with tons of sliced onions and fresh thyme, which, along with the cooking juices, end up making a killer sweet onion sauce that is a perfect match for the tender beef… and it’s butt simple to make. Serve it with some buttery mashed potatoes and a medley of simply roasted veggies and you’re in for a treat. I also will give you my favorite way of using leftovers from this dish!
Recipe – Mom’s Pot Roast
» 1 each Boneless chuck or bottom round roast – 3 – 4 pounds
» 5 onions Peeled, quartered, sliced ¼” thick
» ¼ cup Fresh thyme leaves (1 TBS dried thyme can be subbed)
» As needed Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
» As needed Granulated garlic
» 1 TBS Balsamic vinegar
» 2 cups Beef stock (Optional)
» As needed Cornstarch slurry (equal amounts water and cornstarch)
USDA Choice Certified Angus Beef Chuck Boneless Roast
Place onions in bottom of crockpot… btw… you can also use a Dutch oven if you don’t have a crock pot. Place roast on large plate and sprinkle heavily with salt, pepper and granulated garlic making sure it is covered on all sides.
Place roast on large plate and sprinkle heavily with salt
Place roast atop onions and add thyme and balsamic vinegar. Place on high heat and cook until onions start to simmer then reduce to low, cover and cook for approximately 3 hours or until you can easily pierce a paring knife into the center.
Place roast atop onions and add thyme and balsamic vinegar
Remove roast from pot and place on a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the crockpot into a sauce pan. (I added extra beef stock at this point because I wanted to make plenty of sauce) Bring up to boil, skimming any fat from the top of the sauce. When boiling turn down heat to a simmer and stir in the slurry until it thickens just slightly. Reserve.
Prior to serving the roast I like to separate it into chunks and remove any residual fat.
Note on Leftovers: While leftovers are great just heated up, one of my favorite ways to using it is to make it into a simple hash for Brunch. Dice up the leftover meat, removing any residual fat into ½” cubes. Cut some potatoes into ½” cubes and boil until soft. In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, saute some chopped onions until soft, then add the potatoes and the beef and season with salt, pepper and tarragon. Place pan in 400 oven and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring a couple times. Spoon hash into small serving plate or bowl and top with a poached egg or two. If you’re real ambitious, you can whip up some blender Bearnaise and nap the eggs with it… delicious and decadent!