Or maybe I can name him Stanley. Or Shakespeare. Or I could just name him Dinner and be honest about it.
One of my many pipe dreams is to own a good amount of land and be self sufficient. Live off the grid so to speak. I want a solar paneled house, generators just in case, a large (I mean like half an acre or more) garden, many many fruit and nut trees (and vines and bushes), a clean well, a fully stocked pond and animals. Many many animals. I want pigs (yes I would name them too… possibly Wilbur. Or Lunch.) chickens, ducks, geese, goats and cows. Also cats, dogs, hamsters and monkeys. Many monkeys.
Why you ask? Because our economy is sinking ever downwards for one and I like to plan ahead but also because, even though I know it would be hard work, I have always loved the idea of having a working farm. One that enables us to be utterly NOT dependent on anyone but ourselves. That and because meat is so darn expensive!
I know myself and my family though. Here is what would really happen. We would cultivate the land, have many many fruits and veggies. We would care for these named animules (sorry, they are animules. My dad always used that as the word and I continue it in his name 😀 ). They would grow and be healthy and happy. Joshie would ride on their backs and pet them. Jordan would lovingly brush them. Zachie would have to be stopped from putting saddles on them to prove to the world that he is macho and capable of riding a two ton bull named Don Corleone.
They would then take over the house because not a one of us would ever be able to kill them and eat them. They would sleep in our beds, hogging the covers and turning the heat too high, steal the remote for the TV and only watch The Simpsons and Animal Planet. They would eat my Twinkies and Cheetos which I’m pretty sure is a mortal sin, burp a lot, wear wife beaters around the house and tell me to go make them a sammich. Within a year, we would be the ones sleeping in the barn waiting for the final execution date and our lives would be a vivid remix and remake of both Soylent Green with a large gun toting cow playing Charlton Hestons part and Planet of the Apes with us in old Charlies role of running from the animals so that they didn’t cage us. Hmmm, did you ever notice that Charlton Heston played in some really strange depressing movies?
In the meantime however, I will continue to get my meat from the grocery store wrapped in plastic on a nice Styrofoam tray. I will do my best to NOT name my fried chicken and steaks just as I didn’t name the pot roast I made. Somehow, it’s ok to eat it if I didn’t cuddle it and name it first
and scoot over on the couch so that it could watch The Simpsons..
This isn’t a quick dish here. The way I make it it takes two days because I partially cook it then refrigerate it to let the grease harden then scoop that off. If you’re not as grease averse as I am however (makes me sick as can be) you can forgo the refrigerating step and go straight to the transferring from the stove top to the oven stage. It’s still not a dish to plan on making when you get home from work however. This is a great weekend “I’m actually able to get the whole family to the table” type of dinner. This is homey and comforting and perfect for a Winters night or just a cool rainy night any time of the year.
- Red Wine Braised Pot Roast
- 1 3 to 5 pound chuck roast (usually will have a label on it saying “good for braising or pot roasts”. Get any roast that says that.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cans beef broth
- 2 cups dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir)
- 2 large onions, each cut into 8 wedges
- 3 cloves chopped garlic
- 2 shallots, sliced thin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried Thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt or celery seed
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 pounds small red (or Yukon gold) potatoes
- 1 pound carrots, topped and cut into three pieces (two if it’s a particularly small carrot)
- In a large pan (I use a 12 inch deep chicken frying pan), add your olive oil. Heat for about 90 seconds over medium high heat then carefully add your roast. Cover the pan and let sear until nicely browned, about five minutes. Turn to the other side and repeat.
- When it is browned, take it out and set aside. Add the onions, garlic and shallots to the pan. Cook until they are soft and the onions are lightly browned. Add the red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping to get up all the little browned bits. Add in the herbs, celery seed and Worcestershire sauce.
- Add the roast back to the pan. Add the 2 cans of beef broth. Cover tightly and turn the heat down to a simmer (about 3 on an electric stove)
- Let cook for 90 minutes, keeping it covered.
- Turn off heat. Transfer the roast to a large foil lined baking pan or LARGE Dutch Oven. You need room for the veggies you’ll be putting in there. Add in the carrots and potatoes around the roast. CAREFULLY pour the hot braising liquid all over the meat and vegetables.
- Now you can either let this cool enough to be easy to carry with no fear of burning the crap out of yourself and refrigerate it until the next day or continue with the oven cooking. If you want to put it in the fridge, cover it tightly with foil, then the next day, uncover it, scoop off any hardened grease and discard that.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Cover tightly with foil again and cook at 350 for about 2 hours. By then the meat will be falling apart tender and the vegetables fully cooked and nicely flavored with the pan juices.
- If you want to make a gravy out of this (I usually just serve it with the pan sauces as is) strain out the pan juices through a mesh strainer into a medium pot. Put those onions back in that pan with the other veggies though. They are by this time practically melted down to nothing and very sweet and taste delicious. Don’t waste them! 😛
- Take the strained liquid and heat to boiling. Take 1/3 cup flour and slowly (do it quickly and you will have more lumps than you can ever get out) add 1 cup of the liquid to it to make a soupy paste. Slowly pour this back into the pot of boiling liquid, whisking all the time. Turn the heat down to about 4 or 5 and stirring constantly, cook until nice and thickened. Season this to taste with salt and pepper.