Autumn's First Dinner
|Okay so it's not officially Autumn yet.. but thanks to our drive to the orchard and all of the gorgeous changing leaf colors and the crisp feel of the chilly air - it's Autumn to me! The chill in the air usually makes me want to haul out the crockpot on Sunday mornings, but I thought that since I was going to make an appetizer of Ilva's fried cheese and grapes that I might as well go for it and make a big dinner as well. I had recently bought a beautiful looking chuck roast, some very pretty green and purple asparagus and I also needed to figure out something to make with sage and zucchini for this month's Monthly Mingle No. 4, so I decided on a creamy risotto to take care of that problem (more on that later).|
I didn't feel like preparing the chuck roast as I was taught by my mother because I've recently become interesting in braising. A preparation that I'm not too familiar with. I browsed a few of my cookbooks and decided the recipe I liked best was the one found in my Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2006. I've been like 10 for 10 now with this book's recipes and had hopes this would be another success. It was.. and I learned a lot about braising, which was the goal.
The meat turned out to be quite tender. My addition of carrots and onions weren't carmelized as they are when I make a roast the traditional way, but they were quite tasty after soaking up the stock nonetheless. The risotto was fabulous, creamy and rich. I roasted the aparagus with a sprinkling of sea salt and they turned out crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside.. they were addicting. And finally, I did something I NEVER do.. I made a gravy. I am so not a gravy gal. But I had all this lovely smelling broth combined with the meat's juices and just couldn't waste it.. so I added some fresh thyme and a slurry of soy sauce and cornstarch and it turned out more like a thick au jus than traditional gravy. Seriously? It had such a wonderful taste that I could make a meal dunking good crusty bread in it! hee!
This recipe includes my changes
3 lb. chuck roast, english cut
6 c. beef broth (I used 4 c. beef stock, which was plenty)
2 c. water (I used 1 c.)
Salt & pepper to taste
5 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 lg. vidalia onion, sliced thick
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Lay chuck roast in a 9" x 13" x 2" roasting pan or baking dish and season well with salt & pepper. Arrange onions and carrots over meat and pour stock and water over it all. Place a jellyroll (or something similar) under the roasting pan to catch boiling over juices. Braise in pre-heated oven for 2 hours or until roast is fork tender. It took mine about 2.5 hours.
3 cups of the roast's stock and juices
1 TBS. of fresh thyme leaves
1/4 c. soy sauce
2 TBS. cornstarch
Take beef and veggies out of roasting pan and cover to keep warm. Line a large measuring cup or bowl with a large ziplock plastic bag and pour 3 c. of the stock & juices in, let sit for a couple minutes until fat rises to top. Lock the bag and hold it over a medium saucepan, then cut a hole in the bottom and pour stock into pan, stopping before the fat nears the hole. Bring stock to a simmer. Make a slurry of the soy sauce and cornstarch. Add the fresh thyme and soysauce/corn starch slurry to the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking often, until the au jus thickens a bit. Spoon over sliced roast.
*Note: Okay that was Cooking Light's suggestion on how to transfer the stock from the roasting pan to the saucepan for their gravy recipe. If you are anything like me in the kitchen (and Lord, I hope you are not) that technique will have stock AND the fat all over your stovetop. I let mine sit in a large measuring cup until the fat rose and then I skimmed the fat off - then EASILY poured the stock into the saucepan. Voila. No holes, no trying to stop the flow when the fat gets near the hole, no mess. Sheesh. :D