This weekend is a blur of activities. Baby showers, birthday parties, house projects and design clients filled up my day. Collectively, everything I have consumed from Friday night through Sunday night came from (A) Starbucks, (B) Trader Joe’s and (C) Walgreens. Fortunately, I received an email from my friend and fellow blogger Sarah S. about the fantastic dinner she made on Saturday night for her family. I was simply impressed that Sarah cooks on a Saturday and two that she cooked a roast…neither of which I have done in a long time. Combine it with the fact that the recipe Sarah created is super easy and according to her family, super delicious to boot. I can say this with 100% conviction that if Sarah’s family consisting of several finicky toddlers and adolescent eaters declared this recipe a winner, then I am positive you will too! In any case, I will let Sarah tell you about this winner of a recipe……
How delightful the smell of sautéing onions and garlic is on a cold Saturday afternoon. This beef roast is something you can start right after lunch time and have ready for a 7:00 dinner with family and friends. Set the table with something rustic and fun, wear lounge clothes whose best quality is their comfort (okay, and there is some seriously cute loungewear), put on some classic R&B (really, think 1960’s and 70’s) and open a nice red wine that is full-bodied and still sweet.
Add to that environment this umami roast, and you have a wonderful combination. Umami refers to the flavor. It is one of the basic tastes and refers to the meaty savoriness in a dish. This combination of the creamy potatoes, slightly rich gravy, and tender meaty beef roast touches directly on the umami taste that brings to mind midwest comfort food at its best.
This is not a refined roast that is sliced to serve. It falls apart at the touch of a fork. The vegetables should retain their form and presence but are soft enough to slice through with just the tines.
Saturday Afternoon Umami Beef Roast with Mashed Potatoes
3-3.5 lb organic beef chuck roast (1/2 lb per person should leave a bit of leftovers)
1 Vidalia onion, rough sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Approximately 18-24 baby carrots, whole
3 stalks of celery, 2 inch pieces. Finely chop the rinsed leaves and use.
1 Quart mixed vegetable and beef base/ broth/ or any variation thereof
Kosher Salt and Fresh Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
Gravy (recipe follows)
Served with Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)
To Cook the Roast
Remove roast from refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Bringing it to room temperature will help create a tender roast. Rinse, pat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides and set to the side.
Saute onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil (dutch oven works great) on medium until slightly translucent. Season with sprinkling of kosher salt and pepper. (I season each layer of ingredients for the best flavor.) Turn heat to Medium/ Medium High. Move onions to the side of the pot and add roast. Brown on each side approximately 4-5 minutes.
Add herbs to stock, and add stock to pot, just barely covering the roast. Check for necessary salt. Turn heat to Low, cover and cook for 4-5 hours. This recipe can also go in the oven on 275 degrees.
After cooking roast for 4-5 hours, add chopped vegetables, season, check fluid levels to barely cover all vegetables, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Vegetables should be cooked through without being mushy. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Juice from Roast (visible fat skimmed off)
1/3 C flour
1 Tbsp half n half
Salt and Pepper to taste
Remove vegetables and meat, cover with foil and set to the side or in warm oven. Turn the heat up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove 1/2 Cup of liquid and put in mixing bowl. Add flour and whisk. Add more liquid to thin it out. (You are making a slurry). Feel free to substitute cornstarch if that is your preference.
Whisk slurry to juices on medium heat. Add another sprinkling of rosemary if you want to strengthen the flavor. Cook flour through, whisking every minute or so, approximately 15 minutes, and you will see it thicken slightly. This is not a thick cream-style gravy. It is a drizzling gravy to add moisture and flavor, and is intended to complement the meat and potatoes without drowning. The more you cook it, the richer the gravy. If you want to extend this out to 20 or 30 minutes, be my guest. Season with salt and pepper.
Whisk in half n half and reduce heat to low. Cook for just a few minutes. Check seasoning.
Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes
5 lb bag of potatoes
1 C half n half (1 and 1/2 if you like them looser)
3/4 Stick of Butter (6 Tbsp)
Remove peel and chop potatoes. Boil for approximately 20 minutes. Strain.
Heat half n half and butter on low, just until heated through.
Add potatoes to a ricer if you have it, or whip them with a mixer if you don’t. If you use a ricer, the potatoes will release less starch and you will get a pure potato flavor without starchiness. That combination of butter, half n half and the non-starchy potatoes is blissful.
Add half n half, butter, salt. Mix together with a wooden spoon until just blended.
Roast will pull apart with a fork. A long fish plate works great for serving. Add beef to center 2/3 of the plate, add vegetables to the ends. Serve with a gravy boat of gravy and a bowl of potatoes. This is the perfect meal to place on a buffet next to the table and allow the guests to serve themselves. I would serve it with fresh-from-the-oven bread (maybe a rosemary garlic) with some softened butter.
A glass of red wine evens this out completely, and the only thing that would make it better is a rustic vanilla ice cream with a fresh caramel sauce or blueberry compote. Mmmmm. Delightful.
And don’t forget to use the leftover gravy and meat as a stew base. Truly great.
Based on a 5 spoon scoring system:
Complexity: 3.5 spoons
Difficulty: 2 spoons
Flavor: 5 spoons
A big thanks to Sarah for sharing this recipe and on a side note, I adore her spoon rating system!