Monday, March 07, 2011

Roast Beast Recipe

Today is my husband’s 49th birthday, he is getting older although it would strain credulity to call him a grown up. (Hat tip: Captain Barbossa)

Last night I made one of his favorite dinners, Roast Beast (Hat tip: Dr. Suess) One really nice thing about this dinner is that it’s easy to dress up by making gravy and adding special side dishes. Another awesome thing is that once you get it in the oven you can leave it alone for an hour or two depending on whether you are adding veggies during the cooking process.

Before I get into the ingredient list, I have to say something about the meat. You can do amazing things with a cheap cut of meat. I usually select one that is good sized, 3-4 pounds, and well marbled for juicy goodness. Depending on the size of your family, you might have enough leftovers to make soup!* The chuck roast I used last night was about 4 pounds and it was Angus so you know I got it on sale. Because I’m  cheap a smart shopper, whenever I’m at Meijer I meander past the meat counter in search of two things, catfish nuggets** and Angus roast beast that has been marked down. For the roasts, it’s an inexpensive way to get really good beef. Make sure they are still fresh; don’t buy them if they aren’t pink anymore! Once you get them home you either have to cook them that day so throw them straight into the freezer.

This is where I usually insert a disclaimer about how I don’t actually measure anything (really!) and all amounts listed are approximations. If anything ever needs to be measured exactly, rest assured, I will say so.

Roast Beast a la Miller Ruskowski

3-4 lb chuck roast
2-3 T cooking oil
½ t fresh ground pepper.
1 t garlic (At least 1 teaspoon, I use granulated garlic and sprinkle it all over the roast.)
¾ t Marjoram
½ t Thyme
1 Bay leaf
One bottle of beer, John likes micro-brews, but really anything will do, even canned.

Optional Ingredients:
4 small Onions, halved
Brussels sprouts
Carrot chunks

Preheat oven to 325°

Slowly brown the roast on all sides in the cooking oil in a heavy pot. (The pot should be uncovered for the browning process but should have a good fitting lid for the roasting process.)

After the roast is mostly browned use a pepper mill to grind fresh pepper all over the top of it. You want a heavy sprinkling rather then a dense coating. Apply as much garlic as you like, most of it will cook off in the process but it will still have a mild undertone.***

While still browning, Sprinkle on the Marjoram and the Thyme. Turn the roast over a couple of times to spread the herbs around.

Remove from heat, pour the beer around the roast, not necessarily on it because it will pour off the herbs, add the bay leaf to the liquid. Add the Onion halves if desired. Cover tightly and place in heated oven. Cook the roast for about two hours or less if you prefer it a little rare.

If you wish to add the optional veggies to the roast, the carrots and Brussels can be added during the last half hour to 45 minutes of roasting. Just throw them on top and cover tightly again.

For gravy, when the roast and veggies are done scoop the veggies into a covered baking dish to keep them warm. Put the roast on a plate and cover it with foil and a dish towel or oven mitt to keep the heat in. Bring the remaining cooking liquid to a boil while stirring frequently at med-high heat.

Meanwhile, put some flour or corn starch (1/4-1/3 C) in a container with a tight fitting lid. Add at least a cup of very COLD water, salt & pepper as desired. Cover tightly and shake briskly until you can see that it is thoroughly mixed and there are no chunks of flour or corn starch.

Once the cooking liquid is boiling you can add the flour/water mixture. Bring this back to a boil while stirring (almost) constantly with a whisk or slotted spoon. Just keep stirring and boiling until it looks like gravy. Serve immediately.

Cooking the roast and veggies together is a favorite trick of many cooks so you’ll have fewer pots to stir on the stove. It’s also a great way to conserve energy by cooking almost a whole meal in one pot rather then three or four.

I always cook my potatoes separately but they could certainly be included, you will want to give them at least 45 minutes with the roast. Just make sure you have enough room for everything, you don’t want to pack things in to tight and you still need your lid to fit.

This is a favorite for Sunday when I have a little more time to devote to a family dinner and they always love it. It would probably translate well to the crock pot but I haven’t tried that yet. We have made this while camping but your results may vary, mine certainly did! The first time it was excellent, the second time, I over cooked it and by over cooked I mean cremated. Yup, nothing left but ashes.

*That recipe will be a tough one to conjure, it really is different every time depending on what I have in the fridge.

**Unbreaded; these are essentially catfish bits that were not big enough to be called a filet. They don’t always have them but when they do they’re about half the price of the filets or less.

***In general, this is the garlic rule: For heavy garlic flavor, add it at the end of cooking, for a lighter garlic flavor, add it at the beginning.

That's all for now, only 13 days till spring!

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