Mmmm, Crockpottery goodness. Sometimes (often times, I suppose) simple meals are the best. Last night's dinner was no exception. It's 'cold' here in Florida, and the occasional tang of woodsmoke in the air just adds to that wintry feeling. I love comfort foods, slow-cooked meats and the unctuous mouthfeel of melted fat. Add to that a bottle of very nice wine and my Bitsy Pookums, and dinner was incredible. This is a little more involved than some crock-pot dishes, but well worth that last half hour of work, trust me.
In the morning, combine the following in your crock pot:
4# chuck roast
4 cups carrots, peeled and cut to bite-size
8 branches of fresh rosemary
1 unpacked cup flatleaf parsley (I just grabbed a handful off the bunch)
4 cloves garlic, slivered
1 cup slivered onions
1/2 cup red wine
1 Tbsp celery salt, sprinkled on roast
Salt & Pepper
Turn the slow cooker on low heat for seven or eight hours. When you're ready to finish the meal, you will need:
8-10 pearl onions
4 cups rough-chopped mushrooms (I used cremini, shiitake, and oyster)
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup red wine now
3-4 Tbsp flour
4 cups beef juices, divided (from the slow cooker, add water to supplement)
3 cups frozen baby peas, thawed
1/4 cup red wine later
Pierce the onions with a paring knife right next to the root end. Add to boiling water and boil for 10 minutes or until tender. My Julia Child trick, the piercing. I watched her belittle Jacques Pepin on national television for not piercing the onions, as they will expand uncontrollably without that release point. Drain and cool in ice water. Remove the root end and outer layers of the onions and reserve.
In a heavy saute pan, melt butter with olive oil until bubbling. Once bubbling subsides, add chopped mushrooms. You will want larger pieces, as they will cook down and you don't want them dwarfed by the other vegetables.
Something I learned about mushrooms that makes me very happy. DON'T TOUCH THEM. Let them sizzle away in one spot until you just can't take it anymore, then toss them. This allows them to take on a beautiful golden-brown crispiness instead of just steaming down. Do it. You will be rewarded.
Once the mushrooms are golden brown, add the pearl onions to the pan to allow them to soak up that delicious color. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of flour, and cook until flour has all but disappeared in the pan. Add 1/2 cup of red wine, and cook until all moisture is gone. Add half of the juices from the roast and stir, you'll see the sauce thicken. Because I don't separate the fat from the juices, this fat will rise to the top of the pan. Gauge this and measure 1-2 tablespoons of additional flour into a sealed container, then add the remainder of the juices and create a slurry by shaking the container vigorously. Add this to the saute pan and allow to simmer.
Remove the roast from the slow cooker and allow to rest, covered. Retrieve the carrots from the slow cooker and add to saute pan. Just before serving, add remaining wine and the peas to the saute pan and stir to combine. Spoon the sauce over shredded beef.
I love the egg noodles with this, but you can also serve over mashed or boiled potatoes. Parsnips and rutabaga would also be a nice addition. This makes four healthy portions, and you can adjust depending on the size of roast you buy.
As for the wine:
I had an open bottle of shiraz in the refrigerator, a Mollydooker Boxer if you must know. Thanks to early experiences and this Monty Python sketch, I've shied away from the Australians. The Mollydooker, when I opened it very long ago, was slightly reminiscent of cough medicine, so syrupy it was. But it still worked for cooking. From the same friend as the Mollydooker, I had an '05 Midnight Run Crow Eater, a blend of shiraz and grenache that was much friendlier than a full syrah. It was a bright, high-alcohol wine, and really stood out with the luscious earthiness of dinner. Certainly one of the best bottles we've had in a while.
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