Michael and I are empty nesters now that Mr18 is in college, creating a whole new challenge in cooking. Most of my recipes work for my family of three with enough leftover for one more meal or lunch. These very same recipes now last three or four days! They are yummy, but really. A couple times is plenty. I am not an organized “freeze in dinner-sized portions for later” person, although I may learn to be that way. 🙂
Fall has happened and I have begun to yearn for slow-cooked, aromatic fall foods….like pot roast. Can you imagine how long those leftovers would be around?! While snooping around the grocery store the other day, I came across a chuck roast package weighing only 1 1/2 pounds! Perfect! I could make a tiny pot roast for two! (Now of course, it occurs to me I can buy a regular-sized roast and cut it into smaller portions–duh!) I opened my Julia Child How to Cook for inspiration, (Smothered Brisket of Beef) gathered a very few things and was on my way to fall food yum-a-palooza! This recipe should double or triple easily for larger families.
(Based on Julia’s recipe, adjusted for amounts and what I had on hand)
- 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck roast
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried thyme–fresh is better if you have it)
- 1 large clove of garlic, pressed or very finely minced
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- a few grinds of black pepper, approximately 1/8 tsp
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 4-6 small potatoes, washed and cut in half
- 4-6 carrots, peeled and cut in half
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Combine salt, thyme and garlic in a small container.
Add oil and whisk together.
Rub the garlic mixture over all surfaces of the roast, place it into a large casserole or slow cooker. Place potatoes and carrots on top.
On top of that, add the can of tomatoes, including liquid, and the onion.
Cover with the casserole’s lid or foil and place in the oven for 3-4 hours, or slow cooker on high for the same time, or slow cooker on low for 6-7 hours.
Within an hour, your house will start to fill with that wonderful November Sunday dinner at Mom’s or Grandma’s aroma. At the end of the cooking time, remove from the oven. Mmmmm! doesn’t that look yummy?!
Remove veggies and roast to a platter or large plate and tent with foil to keep them warm.
Strain and de-fat the drippings. You can use a special little pitcher that pours from the bottom, specifically designed for this, or if you have time, place the drippings in the fridge to solidify the fat, or be like me and use a spoon to skim off as much fat as you can. I’ve also heard you can wrap an ice cube in a paper towel and skim it over the surface to get more fat off, but I wasn’t all that concerned. Transfer the drippings to a small sauce pan over medium heat.
Take out 1 TBSP of the drippings and place in a small bowl. Add 1 1/2 tsp corn starch. Blend well and add back to the pan. Heat until boiling while stirring, reduce heat to a simmer. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Serve up your pot roast in perfect portions and drizzle with the sauce. Add a slice or two of crusty bread to mop up any leftover sauce. Alas, in my excitement to consume this yummy meal, I totally forgot to get the bread out!
There. Moist, tender, flavor-y. Fall comfort food on a plate, just like Mom used to make. We each had a satisfying portion of roast and veggies and had one more portion left over. I love cold potatoes and I’ve already snitched a couple from the fridge and plan to use the roast in quesadillas tonight. As Julia said of this recipe. “It makes prime eating.”
I’ve been somewhat obsessed with Julia lately (I’m on a first-name basis with her, as you can see), having just finished Dearie, a biography. I’ve also read Julie and Julia, and My Life In France. I’m all inspired to try more Julia-esque recipes this fall and winter. Do you have a favorite Julia recipe?