Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Onion

Roasted chicken thighs with fennel and onions.

Roasted chicken thighs with fennel and onions.

Weekend suppers usually revolve around an oven baked dish in my household, especially during the cold weather months.  We love chicken in all its many forms and (dis)guises.  Roasting a whole chicken is great when you have a lot of time, but sometimes you would like roast chicken without spending the time.  I’m not talking about rotisserie chicken here, although that’s always good, too.  You can get the end result of roast chicken by using smaller pieces that cook so much faster.

For a weekend meal I prepared a chicken dish that I haven’t made in quite a long while:  bone-in chicken with a herb-garlic mixture rubbed under the skin,  on a bed of fennel, and onions.  Here is my 45-minute version.

IMG_0220

FENNEL AND ONION CHICKEN

Yield:   serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon  olive oil
  • 4 large bone-in chicken thighs

    Cutting up the fennel and onion.

    Cutting up the fennel and onion.

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 large bulb fennel, cut into wedges
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Combine 1 teaspoon olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Loosen skin on thighs by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.  Rub garlic mixture under loosened skin.

Make a paste with oil and herbs.  Rub under skin of thighs.

Make a paste with oil and herbs. Rub under skin of thighs.

3.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet oer medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat.  Add chicken thighs to pan, skin side down; cook 4 minutes.  Turn thighs over and brown other side.   Remove from pan and set aside, reserving any pan drippings.

Brown the thighs and set aside.

Brown the thighs and set aside.

4.  Into the drippings in the skillet, add the fennel and onions.  Over medium heat, toss to coat and brown them a little.  Pour in chicken broth.  Remove skillet from heat.

Lightly brown the fennel and onions.

Lightly brown the fennel and onions.

5.  Place chicken thighs on top of vegetables and place skillet in the hot oven.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until chicken juices are clear and vegetables are tender.

IMG_0221

SOURCE:    Rachael Ray magazine

Advertisements

Whole Grain Buttermilk Waffles

Whole grain buttermilk waffles used to make a breakfast sandwich.

Whole grain buttermilk waffles used to make a breakfast sandwich.

So many pancakes or waffles made with white flour are fluffy, but taste mostly of whatever you put on them, while many of them made with whole grains end up tasting great but cook up flat and dense.  Wouldn’t it be great to have the best of both worlds?IMG_0246

This recipe offers just that;  it gives you a relatively fluffy pancake/waffle with a nice earthy flavor from the whole-grain flours.  I like them without a lot of additional syrup or jam, preferring instead to top them with a little butter, honey and seasonal fruit.

While it’s nice to cook these to order, I also like to sit down at the table and eat with everyone else, so as I cook the waffles  I keep them warm in a 200*F oven.  They will stay moist for up to 30 minutes without drying out.  You can also make the batter and store it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a day.  You’ll probably need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk or water to loosen it up after it sits overnight.

WHOLE-GRAIN BUTTERMILK WAFFLES

Yield:   Make 6 waffles

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml milk
  • 1/2 cup / 120 ml buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 cup / 165 g Whole-Grain Pancake Mix (see yesterday’s post for ingredients)
  • honey or maple syrup for serving

1.  In a batter bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, buttermilk, and butter.  Whisk the pancake mix into the milk mixture until smooth.  Let the batter rest for 10 minutes to allow the dry ingredients to soak up some of the liquid.  The baking soda in the pancake mix will interact with the buttermilk and small bubbles will begin to form.  If the batter feels too thick to pour and difficult to easily whisk or stir, add 1 tablespoon more milk or water to loosen it up.

2.  While the batter is resting, heat a waffle iron, and spray with non-stick spray if necessary.  When it is hot, pour about 1/2 cup batter into the waffle iron, close and bake until waffle is browned and crisp on the edges.

Keep waffles warm in a 200*F. oven until ready to serve.  Serve warm with butter, honey or maple syrup.

Whole Grain Buttermilk Waffles

Whole Grain Buttermilk Waffles

Using up leftover waffles is never a problem with these.  They make a great breakfast or lunch sandwich.  Here you see a sandwich made with scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and guacamole.  Add some lettuce and sliced tomato for an extra hearty sandwich if you wish.  It all tastes great!

Layering up a sandwich on a whole grain waffle.

Layering up a sandwich on a whole grain waffle.

These are sooo good!!

These are sooo good!!

SOURCE:    adapted from Whole Grain Mornings

Whole Grain Pancake Mix

Whole grain pancake mix makes delicious pancakes.

Whole grain pancake mix makes delicious pancakes.

As far as I knew Bisquick was the only game in town.  Bisquick reminds me of weekend mornings, in the kitchen with my Mom, making pancakes, waffles, or shortcake biscuits.  While the ingredients of that well-known mix leave much to be desired  (hydrogenated oils, UGH!), I don’t have any hard feelings against it, as nothing beat the ease of having a mix already to go.

Now-a-days, however, I make most everything from scratch, but it is so convenient to have a mix on hand to speed things up.  So periodically I make up a batch of pancake mix, and I also use it for waffles.  I keep it in an air-tight jar in my cupboard.  Up until recently, the extent to which I included whole grains in my redi-mix had been limited to whole wheat flour as part of the flour total.  Now I have extended myself to include other whole grains, and I’m finding that I really like that hearty, toothsome quality they provide.  If you prefer a more uniform, smooth pancake, you can grind oats down in a processor before adding them, but I encourage you to try this mixture of flour and whole grains as a ready-to-go mix, for a new taste in your morning pancakes (or waffles).  I love this mix so much, I don’t think I’ll ever make pancakes any other way again.

IMG_6576

WHOLE GRAIN PANCAKE OR WAFFLE MIX

Yield:   Makes about 4 cups; enough for 4 batches of pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup /120 g unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup / 120g white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup/ 100 g oat  flour
  • 1/2 cup / 60 g spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup /75 g rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1.  In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients.  Scoop into a large resealable plastic bag or large glass jar and store for 6 to 8 weeks.  Refrigerate for longer shelf life ( 3 – 4 months).  Give the mix a good stir before using it to integrate any ingredients that may have settled.

Use this mix to make pancakes or waffles.

Use this mix to make pancakes or waffles.

Stop back again tomorrow when I’ll have a recipe for whole-grain buttermilk waffles (or pancakes).

SOURCE:   adapted from Whole Grain Mornings

Cherry Scones

Cherry Scones.

Cherry Scones.

When you want a baked treat for brunch or afternoon tea, this scone recipe will fit the bill.  I made these for the first time recently, and we couldn’t wait for them to cool before having one.  They were so flaky and tender, they just fell apart in our hands.  The dried cherries lend just the right amount of sweetness.  These are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea, for breakfast, brunch, snack, afternoon break;  anytime at all is the best time to enjoy one.

IMG_6489

If you want a good basic scone recipe to rely on, this one is it.  You could replace the dried cherries with so many other dried fruits like cranberries (change lemon zest to orange zest),  apricots, golden raisins, snipped dates, etc.

IMG_6499

CHERRY SCONES

Yield:  Makes 8 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2  1/2 Tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 Tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing scones  (You may substitute buttermilk or light cream, but heavy cream will give you a richer scone)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat;  set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Add butter and pulse 3 to 6 times until mixture resembles a course meal.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl; stir in cherries and lemon zest.

Add dried cherries and lemon zest to dry ingredients.

Add dried cherries and lemon zest to dry ingredients.

3.  In a small bowl, beat together egg and cream.  Add to flour mixture; stir gently with a fork until mixture just comes together.  If dough seems too dry, add a splash of cream;  mixture should not be too sticky.

A very "shaggy" dough, but it will come together. Add a drop or two of cream if needed.

A very “shaggy” dough, but it will come together. Add a drop or two of cream if needed.

4.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Shape dough into a 6-inch circle, about 1 inch thick.  Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal wedges.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush with a little cream.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Brush with a little cream.

Place scones on prepared baking sheet; lightly brush tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Sprinkle tops with sugar.

Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

5.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.  These scones are best eaten the day they are made.

Enjoy with coffee or tea.

Enjoy with coffee or tea.

IMG_6493

IMG_6499

SOURCE:  MARTHA STEWART.COM

Cornbread with Broccoli and Cheese

Cornbread with Broccoli and Cheese

Cornbread with Broccoli and Cheese

Here’s a recipe that Mr. D. and I really like.  I make it often when we have chili, as a way to expand the meal, when we are having chili the second time around.  This is a moist cornbread with a slightly sweet corn flavor and can be served as a side dish with any meat entrée.  Adding the broccoli is a good way to get picky eaters to eat some veggies, and the cheddar cheese just seals the deal in my opinion.

IMG_0230

The original recipe for this dish calls for cottage cheese, but I had a small amount of ricotta cheese to use up so I used that instead.   The texture of the cornbread was moist and creamy, but could be cut into squares.  The dish you see here in my pictures contains only half a recipe (9″-square pan), but the full recipe makes a 13 x 9″ pan.

CORNBREAD WITH BROCCOLI AND CHEESE

Yield:   serves 12IMG_6322

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cottage cheese ( or substitute ricotta cheese)
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted (for half recipe use 4 Tablespoons)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2  ( 8.5-ounce) packages corn muffin mix
  • 1 ( 10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and squeezed dry.
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1  1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided**

**  If you would like to off-set the sweetness of the cornbread, go with an extra sharp cheddar.

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

2.  Whisk cottage cheese, butter and eggs in a large bowl.  Stir corn muffin mix into the mixture just until moistened.  Fold in broccoli, onion, and 1 cup cheese.   Pour into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.

Ready for the oven.

Ready for the oven.

3.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 – 40 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing and serving warm.

IMG_0225

IMG_0227

SOURCE:   Allrecipes.com

Cherry Pie, Billy Boy

Cherry Pie, Billy Boy

Cherry Pie, Billy Boy

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?  Can she bake a cherry pie, charming Billy? ”   The answer to the question asked by that old song is…..definitely yes, if she makes this recipe.

IMG_6516

In honor of George Washington, and all folks who love cherry pie, this one’s for you!!   So let’s get started. You won’t want to wait to dig in to this tart-sweet pie with a flaky crust that just breaks apart as you cut into it.  But who cares what it looks like when the flavor is so fabulous.  When I serve it I like to add a scoop of cherry vanilla ice cream, just because— :-).

IMG_6533

CHERRY PIE, BILLY BOY

YIELD:   SERVES 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans sour pitted cherries (16 0z. each)  Even better are fresh pitted sour cherries, if you have access to them.
  • 1  1/2 cups cherry juice, drained from the cherries
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3  1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • your favorite recipe for a double crust pie, or a package of refrigerated pie crust.
  • sugar and a little cream for the top of the pie

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400*F.   Have ready a 9-inch pie dish.

1.  Drain juice from the cherries and measure out 1  1/2 cups.  Sift sugar, salt and cornstarch and mix with the juice.  Place mixture in a medium sauce pan and cook for about 5 minutes to thicken, stirring often to prevent sticking.  Add butter and almond extract.  Remove from the heat.

2.  Add the cherries to the thickened juice mixture, then pour into the pie shell.  Cut decorative slits in the top crust and place on top of filling.  Trim crusts, so top crust extends about 1/2-inch beyond the bottom crust.  Fold top crust over edge of bottom crust and press together to seal.  Flute edges with your fingers.

3.  With a small amount of milk or cream, lightly brush the top crust, then sprinkle with about 1 Tablespoon of sugar.  This will give the crust a nice glaze and make it very tender and flaky.

4.  Bake at 400 *F for 45 minutes until filling starts to bubble up through the top slits, and top is nicely browned.  You may need to cover crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.

IMG_6515

IMG_6537

IMG_6531

As you can see I have a hard time waiting until it’s cooled to cut into, therefore it breaks.  When the pie cooled completely, it cut cleanly and didn’t break apart.  Patience, patience, I must learn that some day.  😀

SOURCE:   A clipping for this recipe has been in my recipe box for a long time.  It came from an old magazine,  done’t know the source.

Fire-Roasted Manhattan Clam Chowder

Fire-Roasted Manhattan Clam Chowder

Fire-Roasted Manhattan Clam Chowder

There are two well-known kinds of clam chowder;  New England Clam Chowder, and Manhattan Clam Chowder.  As I’ve written about here, the New England style is creamy, thick and white with lots of clams and potatoes.  The Manhattan style chowder is made with a tomato broth and contains tomatoes, usually bacon, onions, clams and potatoes.  It’s a matter of taste and preference which one you like best.

In my past experiences with chowder, New England style was homemade, but Manhattan always came out of a can, and I didn’t like it.  That changed several years ago when I happened on this recipe for a homemade version, that Mr. D. and I think is fabulous.  It’s a much lighter soup, still warming on a cold day, but fewer calories to drag you down.  Try this with some savory scones or biscuits to go with it.  I think you’ll be glad you did.

IMG_0253

FIRE-ROASTED MANHATTAN CLAM CHOWDER

Yield:   Makes 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 6  slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch stripsIMG_6345
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery with leafy greens, stalks and leaves finely chopped separately
  • 1 large, or 3 smallish baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • One 28-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • One 14,5 – ounce can chicken broth
  • Two 8-ounce cans chopped clams with their juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a large saucepan or skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat renders, about 6 minutes.  Discard the fat, and place the cooked bacon in a soup kettle.

Frying the bacon.

Frying the bacon.

2.  Add the olive oil to the saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chopped celery and onion and cook stirring, until softened.  Add in the minced garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.   Add this to the soup kettle.

Saute onions, celery and garlic.

Saute onions, celery and garlic.

3.  To the contents of the soup kettle add the potato, the tomatoes and their juice and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Add broth, potatoes and tomatoes.

Add broth, potatoes and tomatoes.

4.  Stir in the clams with their liquid and cook to warm through.  Stir in the chopped celery leaves and season with salt and pepper.  Taste before adding salt as the tomatoes likely have salt in them as well as the clams and chicken broth.  Most times I do not add any salt, just a little black pepper.

IMG_6349

A bowl of hot chowder is so warming on a cold day.

A bowl of hot chowder is so warming on a cold day.

SOURCE:    Cooking Light

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

Orangeburst Cookie Bars

When I was growing up there were two kinds of oranges, eating oranges from California, and juice oranges from Florida.  Now when I survey the display of citrus fruits in the market, the variety of oranges is mind-boggling.  So each week when I grocery shop, I buy a different kind of orange, just so I can try them all and learn the differences between them.

My last shopping trip resulted in my bringing home Blood Oranges.  The color of the flesh of these oranges is deep red/maroon and the juice is dark pink.  The flavor is hard to describe, but seems almost to have a cranberry flavor mixed with the orange.    Besides simply eating them, I wanted to capture that flavor in something baked.  So I turned to this recipe for cookie bars that uses orange juice and zest in the  filling that is baked on a sugar cookie crust.  The juice from the Blood oranges gave the filling a soft pink color that is quite attractive, and the flavor is intense.

Blood orange juice made my filling a pink color.

Blood orange juice made my filling a pink color.

I really liked the texture of these bars;  the filling is soft and chewy while the base is firm sugar cookie.  A nice contrast.  Chopped hazelnuts provide some crunch and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar is all that’s needed to get them ready for serving.

Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar.

Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar.

On a personal note:  I found these bars to be a little too sweet.  In making them again, I would use less sugar because there is sweetness in the cookie base, plus corn syrup and white sugar in the filling.  My feeling is that you could reduce the sugar by half and thereby let the orange flavor become even more prominent.

ORANGEBURST COOKIE BARS

The convience of sugar cookie dough makes an easy crust.

The convenience of sugar cookie dough makes an easy crust.

Yield:    about 24 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 roll refrigerated sugar cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (almonds are a good substitute)
  • 1/2 cup sugar ( you could use as little as 1/4 cup)
  • 5 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 2-3 tsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar for garnish

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Lightly spray a 13×9-inch pan.

2.  Cut cookie dough into 1/2-inch slices.   Line button of pan with the cookie slices, and using fingers press together and flatten evenly to form a bottom crust.

Press sliced cookie dough into pan to form a crust.

Press sliced cookie dough into pan to form a crust.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the nuts, and press into the dough.   Bake 12 – 15 minutes until dough is puffed.

Sprinkle on some nuts and press into the dough.

Sprinkle on some nuts and press into the dough.

3.  Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix sugar and flour.  With a whisk mix in the corn syrup and remaining ingredients (except powdered sugar).  Stir in remaining 1/4 cup nuts.

4.  Carefully pour the filling over the partially baked crust.

Pour the orange mixture onto the partially baked crust.

Pour the orange mixture onto the partially baked crust.

5.  Return to oven and bake 18 – 23 minutes till edges are brown and filling is set.

After baking the bars.

After baking the bars.

Cool completely on a wire rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars.   Makes 24 bars.

Delightfully chewy.

Delightfully chewy.

IMG_0176

SOURCE:  Pillsbury Christmas, 2011

Morning Glory Oats

Morning Glory Oats

Morning Glory Oats

I love warm oatmeal for breakfast, and I also love  Morning Glory muffins,  those big ones you see in coffee shops and bakeries, just bursting with grated carrots, raisins and coconut, too.  They remind me of carrot cake, but call it a muffin, and I’ll eat it for breakfast, thank you.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this recipe that smooshes all of that together in one filling and nourishing dish.  Warm creamy oatmeal crammed with all those yummy things I love in the muffin.  WOW!

IMG_6315

My new cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings, has this recipe.  There are others I’m also craving, so be prepared for more  goodness like what you see here….

It all starts with steel cut oats, followed by brown sugar, grated carrot, spices, raisins and coconut.  The oats start with a combination of gently boiling milk and water.  Add the oats!  After that toss in the sugar, spices, carrots, and raisins.

IMG_6312

The oats take about 25 minutes to cook and soften.  At the same time the carrots become tender and everything blends together sending out an aroma that is cinnamon-y and dreamy.  Creamy oats, that still have some “tooth” to them, soft, sweet carrots, and plump raisins;  just about perfect, you’d think.  But there’s more to come—add in the coconut flakes and orange zest.  Don’t leave out the orange zest, it’s what seals the deal.  Heaven!

I  made this recipe on the weekend, when I had time for the cooking, and it makes a large enough quantity for four generous servings.  What I love about it is that you can store the cooked oatmeal in the fridge and reheat it in the morning with a bit more milk to loosen it up.  This is a breakfast you don’t have to feel guilty about eating because it is so nourishing and good for you.

IMG_0235

MORNING GLORY OATS

Yield:    serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:IMG_6314

  • 3 cups /720 ml water**
  • 1 cup/ 240 ml milk, plus more for serving **
  • 1 cup/175 g steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup/100 g  grated carrots (about 2 medium carrots)
  • 2/3 cup/90 g raisins
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/ 25 g unsweetened coconut flakes

** The important thing here is a total of 4 cups of liquid.  It can be all water, or half water and half milk.  I used almond milk when I made it, but I think coconut milk would be great also and further accent the coconut flavor.  Be adventurous!

Directions:

In a saucepan bring the water and milk to a gentle boil.  Stir in the oats, carrots, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt and return to a boil.  Decrease the heat to low and partially cover.  Cook the porridge until it begins to thicken, stirring once or twice, and the oats are soft yet chewy, 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut flakes and orange zest.

Coconut and orange zest added in to the cooked oats.

Coconut and orange zest added in to the cooked oats.

Cover and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve warm with an extra bit of warmed milk if you would like.

IMG_0234

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container and they will keep for 5 days.  Reheat by adding a few tablespoons of additional water or milk and warm on the stovetop or in the microwave, stirring well.

IMG_0233

SOURCE:   Whole Grain Mornings, by Megan Gordon

Yankee Pot Roast

Yankee Pot Roast

Yankee Pot Roast

If you were to look through any old New England cookbook from the last hundred years, you would most likely find a recipe for savory Yankee pot roast.   A good pot roast is absolutely essential to winter survival, just about as necessary as a good pair of snow tires, or a warm pair of slippers.   This classic combination of tender beef, seasoned vegetables, and rich gravy is comfort food at its best.   Today, the day before Valentine’s Day, we are having a blizzard and I found that I just needed to make a pot roast.  The snow is piling up outside, and since I can’t go anywhere, it’s a perfect day to stay inside and enjoy the cozy warmth of my kitchen and the aroma coming from the oven.

IMG_6443

“Pot roast,” is a term for browned meat cooked with vegetables in a covered pot.  It began appearing in cook books in the late 19th century, but this method of slow cooking in liquid,  what we now know as braising, is much older than that.  Tough cuts of meat all benefit from this form of cooking, because the long slow cooking breaks down the connective tissue, which converts to gelatin over time to produce both tender meat and a silky sauce.  Since these tougher cuts come from the “working” parts of the animal, they have more flavor, so a good braise will give you delicious meat cooked down to pull-apart perfection.IMG_6444

The process for making a pot roast begins with browning the meat.  This is a necessary step because it creates wonderful flavor.  Once the meat is browned, it is then simmered in a stock consisting of beef broth and red wine, and seasoned with onions and herbs.  Some cooks add the vegetables in the final hour of cooking, but I like to layer my vegetables in the pot first and place the roast on top of them, so the flavor seeps down through all the layers making them deeply flavorful.  A variety of vegetables may be used such as onions, carrots, parsnips, turnips, celery and potatoes.  Whatever’s on hand is what works best.

Whenever I make a pot roast we always eat it broken into large chunks or slices (if that’s possible), with the vegetables and gravy.   Hopefully there will be some left over for a second meal, when I shred what’s left, reheat it in some gravy and we have it on a “hard roll” as a hot sandwich.  I don’t know which meal I like better; the first or the second, because it’s so good either way.   If there are potatoes (and onions) left over, I combine them and reheat them as “home fries”.  These may be served for breakfast with eggs, or with that hot sandwich for dinner.

The recipe that I’m sharing with you today calls for carrots, onions, and potatoes, but they can be swapped out for any of your favorite vegetables.  Most recipes also call for red wine, and usually I use it, but didn’t have any on hand when I made this, so my gravy was made from beef broth only.  For best results, use a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or cast iron skillet to sear the meat on the stovetop; then continue the braising in the oven.

YANKEE POT ROAST

Yield:  4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1  2-to-3-pound beef chuck roastIMG_6437
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 large yellow onions, cut into thick wedges
  • 2 -3 cloves garlic, left whole
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp. dry
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dry
  • 1 cup medium-body red wine ( such as Merlot)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 3 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces, optional
  • 1 whole bay leaf

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F and position an oven rack in the lower half of the oven.  Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season liberally on all sides with salt and pepper.

2.  Set a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the beef to the pot and sear evenly on all sides, using tongs to turn the roast, about 5 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Brown the meat well on all sides.

Brown the meat well on all sides.

3.  Lower the heat to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, and chopped herbs, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are beginning to brown a little about 5 – 6 minutes.

4.  Deglaze the pot:  add the wine and 1 cup of beef stock, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Add the tomato paste and stir into the stock.  Place the potatoes, carrots and celery into the Dutch oven.

IMG_6436

Then lay the roast on top of the vegetables.  Add the remaining cup of beef stock to the pan.  Bring to a simmer.

IMG_6438

5.  Once it’s simmering, remove the pot from the heat.  Cover and transfer the pot to the oven and cook until the beef is quite tender, 2 to 2  1/2 hours.

6.  To serve, slice against the grain, or use two forks to pull the beef into chunks.  Discard the bay leaf.  Arrange the beef and vegetables on a platter.  Serve the sauce/gravy separately to spoon over the meat and vegetables.  Alternatively you may want to make mashed potatoes instead of cooking the potatoes with the meat.  Buttered egg noodles also go very well with this dish in place of potatoes.IMG_6442

7.  To make a quick beef gravy:   Remove the meat and vegetables to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Skim the fat from the surface of the gravy; then bring to a simmer on the stovetop.  In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1/4 cup water per cup of gravy to form a slurry.  Add the slurry to the gravy, whisking continuously until thickened.  Continue mixing as you bring the gravy to a simmer; it will thicken noticeably.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

IMG_6444

SOURCE:    Encyclopedia of American Cooking