Today the temperature outside is dropping significantly. Didn’t notice for a while but a friend who came to visit had to rush off to chop firewood. Now I know what he meant – it has turned from cool to positively freezing.
So what to cook for dinner I thought? Now there are only two of us left at home it’s a bit more challenging. I’ve decided on a pot roast, a staple of our household especially when the children were growing up. I remember when I was young it was my favourite dish Mum used to make.
The only slightly fiddly part is making a stuffing and cutting a pocket in the meat. It really makes for a delicious roast into which the flavours of the herbs and onion have infused incredibly well. The meat is cooked in a combination of sherry or port and tomato sauce (ketchup style). You can cook it in the slow cooker if you want – the meat will be tender and flavoursome, as will the gravy, but today I think I’ll cook it on top of the wood heater. Whichever way you choose to cook it, the aroma in the house will be amazing.
You can use a really inexpensive cut of meat for this – the one I am using today is a blade roast. With the long slow braising, it comes out beautifully tender. The meat is delicious in sandwiches of course the next day, which for me is vastly preferable to buying expensive and mostly additive laden deli meats.
This is how it goes (this recipe will serve 4):
1.5kg (approximately) piece roasting beef
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (about 2 slices bread, crumbed)
½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as sage and thyme)
1 onion, grated
1 tablespoon sherry (any sort)
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoons oil
1 cup tomato sauce (i.e. ketchup)
1 cup sherry
½ cup water
Trim any excess fat from the beef and cut a pocket in the middle (not all the way through). Mix together the breadcrumbs, herbs, onion and the one tablespoon of port. Press mixture into the pocket in the meat and close with skewers or sew with butcher’s string.
Roll the meat in the combined flour, salt and pepper. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot and cook the meat, turning until all surfaces are browned. Pour over the combined tomato sauce, sherry and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately one and a half to two hours until the meat is very tender. (Check occasionally to see that the sauce has not boiled away – if it is starting to do this add extra water, about ¾ cup).
Remove the meat from the pot, cover with foil and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting int0 slices to serve.
By the time the meat is tender a delicious gravy will have formed in the saucepan. Strain this if you want a smooth gravy, than add salt and pepper to taste. If there is too much, cook over medium heat until it reduces to s sauce-like consistency.
Serve the pot roast with its gravy along with creamy mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
(If you want to cook this dish in a slow cooker, you need not brown the meat if you prefer, and reduce the sauce ingredients to ½ cup each of sherry or port and tomato sauce and don’t add the water. Cook on High for 5 to 6 hours or Low for 10 to 12 hours).