Friday, August 22, 2008

Yastrzemski Pot Roast

I cook five days a week at work. But I don't think that the recipes that go along with the menus are very good. So I tend to experiment a little bit to improve them. This doesn't always work out (Corn Nut Chicken, Ask Me How!), but most of the time, after some trial and error, we have something that's a huge improvement. So this is my version of pot roast, which I think is a great improvement. It's technically a Yankee pot roast, but I'm opposed to all things Yankee so I renamed it after Carl Yastrzemski (Yaz!).


One beef roast, about 4 lbs (I like to use round, but chuck would work too- figure about 1/2 lb per person if you want to make the recipe smaller)
1 1/2 tablespoons Flour
2 teaspoons Kosher or Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper (fresh ground is much better)
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
2ish tablespoons Butter (or olive oil if you're trying to be a little healthier)

Can of tomato juice or vegetable juice cocktail (I use the spicy V8)
Worcestershire Sauce
Dijon Mustard (you better have some of this on hand it is Essential after all)
Rosemary (just a tiny bit)
Onions, minced
Mushrooms, sliced
Garlic, minced

Red potatoes (I use Red Bliss ones), cut into chunk, usually just about quartered
Celery, chopped in 1-2 inch pieces on the bias
Carrots, about the same as the celery, maybe a little smaller
Onions, chopped
Parsley, chopped (only the fresh kind! no dried parsley!)

1- Mix together the flour, salt, pepper and sugar. Coat the outside of the roast with the mixture. This will help with the browning process. Heat the butter (or oil) in a deep, heavy, pan (something that's oven safe if you plan to cook it in the oven). Brown the roast on all sides on a medium high heat. Remove the roast and set aside, tented with foil.

2- Mix tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and herbs together in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly, the mustard can be hard to incorporate. Set aside for the moment.

3- In the same pan (on medium high heat) that you browned the roast (there should be a tasty fond at the bottom now) you're going to caramelize the minced onions, mushrooms and garlic. Add in a little more butter (or oil) if there isn't enough left to coat the bottom of the pan. Then add the onions, mushrooms and garlic (in that order, you don't want the garlic to burn). When they have just started to caramelize (about 2-3 minutes) deglaze the pan with the tomato juice mixture you made in step 2. Stir constantly until the fond from the bottom of the pan has mostly incorporated into the liquid. Pour liquid into a large measuring cup or bowl.

4- Add the vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions, celery) to the pan. If necessary, add a little more butter/oil. Cook on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, you just want to soften the vegetables, not brown them!

5- Add the roast back into the pan, nestled right in amongst, and on top of, the vegetables. Pour the tomato juice/mushroom mixture on top, covering the meat and the vegetables. Top with the parsley.

6- Bring everything to a simmer, cover, and put into a pre-heated 325 degree oven. Cook for three hours, checking halfway through to see if meat is covered by liquid, if not, then turn the meat over at that point.

7- After three hours, take it out, slice the meat and serve with the vegetables. If you want to make the liquid into a gravy then add 2 tablespoons of flour into 1/2 cup of water, stirring it in until it is completely incorporated.

You could also finish this in a crock pot. All you'd have to do is, after step 4, take the vegetables, pour them into a large crock pot, add the roast, sauce and parsley and cook on medium for 5-6 hours, turning it up to high at the end if it's not quite done.

There's the possibilities for many variations on the recipe. Feel free to experiment with different herbs, or add in some beef stock to the sauce for that extra beefy flavor. Cooking is art, not science, so just try something! In fact I have an idea to use a pork roast and put an Asian spin on the recipe (a lime/soy sauce, maybe some daikon, ginger).

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