Monday, March 8, 2010

Just another manic Monday...

It's just another manic Monday
I wish it was Sunday
'Cause that's my funday
My I don't have to runday
It's just another manic Monday


Around 10:00 this morning I called my brother to see where he was. Running late, which isn't atypical for any normal individual on a Monday morning. But, due to his tardiness, he couldn't stop by my house on his way through town. That meant he was planning to come over later in the evening to remedy my toilet flushing issues. (Don't worry, they are manufacture issues, not installation. Which is good being that the installer works for my father and brother. I can't complain about faulty plumbing parts, though, since I am getting them for free.)

N-E-WAY...(to revert back to my 7th grade note passing references)...

Being the wonderful, caring sister and true Southern Belle that I am, what do I do? I offer dinner to Joe the Plumber in exchange for his services. I mean, I think I'm the one getting off with the better end of the deal. Free plumbing work for an easy to prepare and mostly cheap meal that I get to enjoy as well! (I'm not telling my brother that his work is just an excuse for me to fix one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE Southern meals. He doesn't need to know the selfishness behind my dinner offering! He'll never know. He doesn't read my blog. Wife of the brother...don't tell him if you read this!)

But back to the Manic Monday...Can you tell I am totally off focus today?...Since I found out mid-morning that my brother was coming over for dinner instead of while I was at work, I needed a fast and easy meal that I could fix on my lunch break. So, pot roast came to mind. (Maybe because I think subconsciously it was suggested by another co-worker in passing.)

Lunch time came round and I made a mad dash to the market. In less than 10 minutes I grabbed a decent roast, carrots and potatoes. I had everything else I needed already at home. Then I whipped home (since I basically live across the street from the grocery) and began throwing the dinner in the crock pot. I had it done in about 15 minutes, literally. AND...I had time to make my turkey and tomato panini for lunch, sit down and eat my lunch, and whip up a batch of dough for homemade bread that will hopefully be ready to bake for dinner tonight. I did that in about an hour and 5 minutes. Seriously. And in high heels and a dress, since it was the middle of my work day.

I really can't brag about my quick dinner preparation though. I mean, crock pot roast is one of the easiest meals to make EVER! And there's really not a set recipe or science to perfecting it. It really is just throwing a bunch of stuff in a pot and letting it cook all day. But here's what I typically do:

Ingredients:
1 roast (Size - Depends on your amount of guests. Type - rump roast, eye of round roast, chuck roast, etc. Whatever you prefer. I don't have a fave, but I chose an eye of round today)
1/2 to 1 onion sliced in rings and then halved
1 small bag of mini peeled carrots (That you can just dump in. So easy!)
Potatoes (Amount - Depends on guests. Type - Today I took baby gold potatoes that I could wash and dump in. I needed something fast. Normally I quarter new potatoes or chunk russets.)
Some type of liquid** (see seasonings)

Seasonings:
This is where you can be creative.
Tony Chachere's - Since my brother likes to sweat when he eats, I took the Cajun spice route. I rubbed a bunch of Tony's on the roast. This is a very Southern way of cooking. We love Tony's on EVERYTHING though!
Worcestershire - Before rubbing on the dry seasoning, I gave the roast a good douse of Worcestershire sauce. I can't get enough of this stuff on my red meats or homemade chex mix.
** Liquid - Most people use water. Some people use Coke, and I think that's weird. Though, I have never tried it to see if it tastes good or not. I typically take a dry soup package (like french onion or onion mushroom), mix it in a big glass of hot tap water, and pour it over the roast. I like my roast to be nearly covered in liquid to keep it really moist and juicy. Also, be sure the vegetables you are cooking with it are submerged in the liquid because otherwise they don't always cook so well.

Directions: Throw everything in a crock pot and cook on high for about 4-5 hours or low for 8-10 hours. Its's THAT easy! Seriously! Though, if you want step by step instructions, here's what I do...

1. Rinse roast and place in crock pot. Douse with Worcestershire and/or Dale's. Sprinkle with dry seasonings (salt, pepper, Tony's, etc.)
2. Dump in potatoes, carrots and sliced onions and position around roast.
3. Pour in liquid of choice, but avoid pouring directly over the roast. (It will wash away the dry ingredients you already put on it.)
4. Set your crock pot to low if cooking for 8-10 hours. OR...set it to high if you are cooking for 4-6 hours. If you have enough liquid in it, it will not get dry.
5. Cover crock pot with lid, and go on with your life. The dinner will cook itself!

Pot Roast Gravy

One of the keys to having the most impressive pot roast ever is the type of gravy you provide. You can't just buy a packet of that brown gravy mix and expect to wow your guests. You need to make your own. Here's how my dad taught me. Though first, I do have to admit that sometimes even the best cooks end up with lumpy gravy. It's just a part of life, and I think good gravy takes years to perfect. But here's my method, and it never fails to taste fantastic!

Ingredients:
1-2 tablespoons of oil
2-3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 large glass of pot roast juice (just scoop it straight out of the crock pot)

Directions: In a medium sized skillet, heat oil with salt and pepper on medium heat. When oil starts to bubble, slowly add flour and whisk immediately. Continue whisking flour and oil until you have a consistent and thick mixture. Slowly, but consistently, add liquid and continually whisk to avoid clumps. You will need to eyeball how much liquid to add depending on the amount and thickness you desire for your gravy. However, as it continues to heat on the stove, it will thicken up a bit. Cut heat down to low and continue stirring gravy until all ingredients are mixed well.

Be sure to taste it before you serve it to make sure it has enough flavor. You can always add Liquid Smoke or Worcestershire for flavor, as well as salt and pepper. But I recommend doing in small increments to avoid over-flavoring.

If you have any lumps in your gravy, then simply strain it into a gravy boat or bowl before serving. No one will ever know! (That is, of course, unless they saw you straining it!)

The gravy is good poured over the entire plate of meat, potatoes, carrots, and everything! TRUST ME! Gravy makes the dish!

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Pot roast really is an easy dish to make. It probably was one of the first things I learned how to cook when I was a kid, and a staple for Sunday afternoon lunches. It was so easy for my mom to prepare everything in a crock pot and let it cool while we went to church. I don't make it much for myself, though, since I'm used to cooking just for one. Though, I think after today I need to change my philosophy on that! I can always freeze some of the leftover meat for later! : )

Happy cooking!

1 comment:

Cindy said...

You know what they say, Tony's makes everything taste great! Thanks for including us!

Cindy Ardoin, Tony Chachere's, Food Scientist