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This blog is designed to be used like a cookbook. I've put tags on each recipe so you can go to the section on that topic just by clicking on the word in the cloud or the list. Some recipes are under more than one category to help you find what you're looking for.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pot Roast and Rudolph's Meat Market

With the Memorial Day holiday coming up our family decided to spend our weekend gathered together.  Any time that happens and there is no "official" cuisine our default is hot dogs.  And, given enough notice, Beaven will stop by Rudolph's when he is in town. That's our favorite hot dog. 

They are the old fashioned kind that are linked together in long ropes. The Meat market in Dallas makes their own and they have a deep flavor than makes other hot dogs taste like cardboard.

Our family has been going to Rudolph's Meat Market on deep Elm St. in Dallas for four or five generations--it's five if you count who loves the hot dogs, four if you count who is paying for them. Once we scored the hot dogs for Memorial Day I sent a photo to Sarah and Elisabeth to put their minds at ease.

Beaven's grandparents had a house a few miles from the State Fairgrounds.  In it's heyday, the neighborhood had large stately homes mostly built by the Dallas Jewish community.  The Els family, good Lutherans, had a smaller house with four sons and two daughters.  Papa Els started a commercial bakery in the family kitchen.  He bought houses nearby for his sons and their families who all worked at the bakery.  Sometime in the fifties the neighborhood declined and the family bought houses in other parts of town. The bakery took over the unused houses and put in larger commercial ovens or tore them down for a parking lot.. 

They kept the kitchen area of one of the houses so his grandmother and aunts could cook gigantic meals for the family during the workday.   Rudolph's Meat Market was their butcher. It's still there at the original location, still selling quality meats the old fashioned way.

Sad to say, I get most of my meat from Walmart now.  Mostly because I live out in the country.  Except for hot dogs.  If it's a big family celebration we will assign Beaven to pick some up when he's already in Dallas. Rudolph's is about the only place you can find the old fashioned kind that is linked together.

So, for Memorial Day we stopped in to get some.  And I spotted the pot roasts.  A seven bone chuck roast, to be exact.  I haven't seen a roast cut that way in years.  I'm not sure why. But it's one of the best cuts for a chuck roast. 

It's not a chunk of meat with seven bones.  Actually, there's only one bone. It's called a "seven bone" that because the bone makes the shape of the number seven. It's backwards in this photo.  Pretend you're looking at it from the other side.

I let it sit uncovered in the fridge last night to dry it out a bit.  That concentrates the flavor.  Look at the marbling. It's just the Mona Lisa of meat we have here.  What you can't see is that it's about three inches thick.  When you are blessed with a piece of meat this good you start finding reasons to cook it.  And, voila!, Memorial Day with the entire family. We can't eat hot dogs for the entire weekend.

Once we got in the car and checked the receipt we realized this roast cost us $40. Apparently, you pay for what you get.  A chuck roast, even the seven bone one, is not an expensive cut,  There are a lot of other cuts more expensive.  I'm pretty sure that if Rudolph ever charged Aunt Esther $40 for a pot roast, she would have expected the Queen of England to personally come to her house and cook that roast herself.

I expect a lot from this roast.

Here is how I cook a pot roast: 

Get a big pot-- enameled cast iron is the best. 

Put a  hefty layer of olive oil in the bottom of the pan.  Turn the heat on medium.  Add the roast.  Let that sizzle for a while until it's good and brown on one side.  Turn the roast over and brown the other side.

Add about a cup or two of red wine--not covering the meat but maybe 1/3 from the bottom.  Chop several cloves of garlic and one whole onion.  add those to the pot.  Add an envelope of onion soup mix.  Cook this in the oven for an hour at 300 degrees.

After an hour the roast will not be tender at all.  You might be tempted to think you've made a huge mistake.  Don't let this discourage you.

Add about four chopped carrots and a chopped potato. Check the liquid--you should have plenty. If not, add some more red wine.   Put it back it back in the oven for another hour.

Check it after an hour.  It should be marvelously tender at this point.  If not, give it another 30 minutes. It it's still not fork-tender then, you probably bought the wrong kind of meat and you're screwed and your mother-in-law probably regrets her son's choice. When the meat is falling apart you will know it's ready.  Take the meat out of the pot in chunks and put on a plate. 

Set the plate aside to cover with plastic wrap and save for dinner or refrigerate until tomorrow. I like to make my pot roast a day ahead if I can for a couple of reasons.  But you don't have to do it my way.

Pour the liquid and veggies into a bowl.  Jiggle it enough to get the veggies to settle and let the fat rise to the top in one layer. At this point you can skim the fat off the top.  If you refrigerate it until the next day the fat will have solidified and be easier to take off with a fork, leaving only the juice and vegetables.

The next step is to take this whole thing and blend it up in the Cuisinart or some other kind of blender that will pulverize the potatoes and carrots.  This thickens the gravy and you don't need to add a flour and butter roux. Sometimes I add a little Worchestershire sauce. Sometimes more red wine.  You will notice I haven't put any water in.
Of course, now you don't have any veggies because you blended them all into gravy. That's OK.  Sometimes the red wine will turn the potatoes purple if you cook them together.  Yes--a kind of grayish purple.  It looks nasty.  The potatoes and carrots you have cooked at this point are merely thickener for the gravy. 
To get the vegetable sides, I roast them and add them later.
Cut up the potatoes and carrots you want into the size you want and roast it in the oven in a single layer on a cookie sheet.  You can really add any kind of veggies here:  asparagus and brussel sprouts are nice.Douse them liberally with olive oil and seasoning salt.  Cook at about 400 or so--keep an eye on them and turn as needed.  This cooks it fast and gives it a rustic brown look.  And, best of all, the potatoes aren't purple.
Turn the oven back to 300-325 or so and heat the meat up covered in aluminum foil to keep it moist. You don't want to cook it any more, just heat it.
Combine the veggies and meat or serve separately. Serve the gravy in a bowl.