Working man/woman’s Dinner
Here’s a Crock Pot beef dish that you can assemble before your workday and it will be ready by the time you get home. There are many unheralded culinary creations of working class people that rarely get the type of recognition given to expensive restaurant dishes. “Cucina Povera” and “French Country Cooking” are now esteemed, so here in Texas, I like to take a closer look at the everyday home. I love to eat in restaurants, but also to give attention to the art of of everyday home cuisine.
It’s about technique, and being resourceful with whatever you’ve got available, so that you end up with homestyle artful eating. If you don’t have all of the herbs in this recipe, you can leave some of them out–except for the black pepper and beef stock/broth. In this dish, the hard part is browning the meat and vegetables before they go in the crockpot. If you don’t have time to prepare, omit all the browning steps, and just throw the ingredients into the crock-pot. Plug it in and depart.
3 lb Boneless Chuck Roast
2 Tablespoon Canola oil or Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Medium White Onion, peeled, coarse chop
1/2 Small Carrot, coarse chop
4″ Celery Rib, coarse chop
1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
2 quarts Beef Stock or Beef Broth
1 Hoja De Laurel (laurel leaf)
2 Sprigs Fresh Parsley
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, minced
4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
8 Black Peppercorns
3 Tablespoons All Purpose Wheat Flour
2 Tablespoons Butter
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil to the point that you see it begin to have waves and shimmer (not smoking) and brown the vegetables so that they have some brown and black spots. Add the tomato paste and brown that too, stirring well to blend it with the vegetables. Add 1/2 cup of the beef stock and scrape the pan to dislodge all of the brown bits–you’ll see that the bottom of the skillet is scraped clean. Empty everything into the crock pot.
2. In the same skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil, bring it to the point of shimmering and brown the chuck roast on all sides. Place the roast in the crock pot.
3. Add 1 quart of the beef stock to the skillet and scrape the bottom to remove all the brown bits. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil, then add it to the crock pot, along with the laurel leaf, parsley, thyme and black peppercorns. Cover and set to cook on high.
4. After 8 hours or so, remove the meat and place it on a platter and keep it warm.
MAKING THE GRAVY
5. Empty the liquid into a large saucepan, add the remaining quart of beef stock and boil it until it is reduced by half. Strain it so that all the vegetables and herbs are removed. Return the liquid to the saucepan and simmer bring to a simmer. NOTE: With a ladle or large spoon, carefully skim off and discard the film of fat that has formed on top.
6. In a heat-resistant bowl or a small saucepan, place the flour and butter, then add 1 cup of the hot, reduced, strained liquid. Stir with a spoon until all the flower is dissolved and there are no lumps.
7. Pour the dissolved flour solution back into the saucepan, stirring briskly all the while (you can use a whisk if you like), making sure there are no lumps and that the gravy is smooth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Adjust the salt.
Slice the roast and place on a plate with either rice or potatoes and a green vegetable for added vitamins.
Spoon the gravy over the meat and sprinkle with the minced parsley.
In the picture, I served it with riced cauliflower because it has a lower glycemic index than potatoes or rice.
Let me know how this turns out and if it works for you as an everyday type of dinner.