Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Pot Roast and Beyond

You readers know how much I love my grass-fed beef.  I mean, I don't have 2 extra freezers in my house just for ice cream...although that would be pretty awesome too!  And one of the easiest, most delicious ways to cook up that beef is a good old fashioned pot roast.

Easiest thing in the world.  Peel and quarter a few onions, cut some potatoes into large pieces, peel some carrots and cut them into large pieces, put a beef roast in the crock pot, toss the veg around it, sprinkle it with salt and pepper or whatever seasonings you like, pour a half cup of water over it all, cover and cook for 4-6 hours on high, 8-10 on low.  Bam.  Pot roast.

As much as I love pot roast, I've come to love it even more for the leftovers.  Because...pasta.

Backtracking a bit, Pure Beef by Lynne Curry is one of the best cookbooks about beef there is, and it's a great resource on not only how to cook it, but also how to source and choose it.  It's filled with a lot of delicious recipes, and one I go to a lot is the Last-Minute Beef Ragu, which uses leftover pot roast to make a fantastic savory sauce that is heaven over pasta.

One of the things I love about good Italian food is that it takes very few ingredients, yet delivers so many levels of flavor.  This recipe follows that tradition.  Here's all you need: olive oil, an onion, leftover pot roast, garlic, beef stock, a can of whole, peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and red pepper flakes.

Chop the onion, chop or shred the beef into bite-sized pieces, and slice 4 cloves of garlic into thin pieces.  That's it, as far as prep goes.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Add in the onion.  Cook it about 5 minutes, until it starts to lightly brown.

Add the pot roast, the garlic, and a cup and a half of beef stock.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half.

Add the tomatoes to the sauce, crushing them either by hand or with a utensil.  By hand is more entertaining, by far, but watch out because some of them will really squirt out at you!  Add in a spoonful of tomato paste, a bit of salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  You can add more, if you like more of a kick, but even if you're not a big spice fan, I recommend keeping them in the recipe, because it really adds to the sauce without bringing too much heat to it.

Simmer all that for about 15-20 minutes, until it thickens up.  While it's simmering, boil your water and cook your pasta according to the package directions.  Taste the sauce for seasoning, and serve it over the pasta.

You can top it with Parmesan or your typical pasta accouterments, but I have to say that for me, this sauce stands on it's own.  The pot roast elevates the flavor to taste like something that has been simmering and melding all day, rather than being thrown together 40 minutes before being served.  I would probably eat it out of a bowl like a stew if I didn't have such a crush on carbs.  This serves 4-6 people, depending on how "starving" they are.

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