Monday, January 29, 2018

Recipe of the Week - Dry Aged Dutch Oven Pot Roast

"I thought this was a political bog?"  Well, it is.  But it is more than that; it is a blog of life.  Life is a many faceted gem, each facet reflecting its share of light, some flawed, some more perfect, to form the sum of this experience on earth we call "Life".

One such facet reflects the world's oldest art form: Cooking.  Yes, cooking is an art, one all of us are capable of learning.  All that is required is the desire to do so,  the willingness to fail and learn from our failures and to try again.

While complex recipes, fancy kitchens and equipment are fine in their own right, they are not essential to good cooking.  Good cooking can be accomplished in the most basic of kitchens (even outdoors), with simple ingredients, techniques and equipment.

High-end restaurants age their beef in large pieces and under strict temperature and humidity control, sometimes for more than a month.  Dry aging beef at home is not at all difficult or complex.  Beef can be aged in your own refrigerator from a few hours, up to 10 days.  Keep in mind, the longer something sets in your fridge, the more likely it is to pick up flavors from other things, in there.  Keep your leftovers sealed in tupperware or zip locks to prevent this.

Dry aging removes moisture from the meat, concentrating the flavor and when aged for longer periods of time, helps to tenderize it.  Tenderizing isn't a concern when cooking in a Dutch oven; the cooking process will do that.

The only equipment needed to dry age is a refrigerator thermometer, cooling rack and shallow dish/pan to hold it.

Dry Aging Ingredients:

2 1/2 lb. Fresh Pot Roast - Serves 4 (adjust cooking time for larger roasts)
Kosher salt
Garlic powder

Rinse the roast in cold water, pat dry. Liberally coat it with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  (Once, I was out of garlic powder and substituted onion powder.  BIG mistake; it ruined the roast.)  Some people wrap their meat in cheese cloth to absorb moisture, changing it out twice after a day or two, then covering it with paper towels for the remainder of the process.

Place the seasoned roast on a rack in a shallow pan and set in the fridge at the back of the bottom shelf, along with the thermometer.  Maintain a temperature of 34-38 degrees and drain any juices that accumulate, as needed.

Cooking Ingredients:

Oil for browning
Potatoes, plumb size or cut to plumb size
Flour for gravy

Clean the veggies, wash and scrub the potatoes, leave skins on.

When you are ready to cook the roast remove it from the fridge and preheat the oven to 225 degrees.  Trim away the discolored fat and meat.  Add your favorite cooking oil to the Dutch oven and heat to medium high, on the stove top.  Brown the roast on all sides, remove from heat.

Add the first round of carrots (3-4), onion (2 medium size) and celery (3-4 stalks) (cut up into small pieces).  Add two to three cups of water or beef stock; enough to cover, or nearly cover the meat.  Put the lid on and place in the 225 degree oven.

After 4 1/2 hours, remove the roast from the oven and take out the carrots, onion and celery.  They will be cooked to death; their purpose is to add flavor to the broth and meat.  Add enough potatoes to serve 4, add more liquid if needed and return to the oven for half an hour.

Peal and cut enough carrots to serve 4.  Cut the carrots into somewhat uniform size, ranging from 2"-3", depending on the taper.

Add the carrots to the Dutch oven and cook for another 20 minutes.  Carrots should retain some crispness.

Remove from the oven and turn it off.  Place the meat, potatoes and carrots in a pan or on a serving platter and return to the turned off oven to keep warm.  Put the Dutch oven with the broth on a burner turned to medium heat or slightly above.  Taste the broth and add salt and pepper if needed and a couple Tbs of butter.  Put 6 Tbs of flour in in a jar, add 2/3 cup or so of cold water and shake vigorously, creating a thin paste.  Once the broth begins to simmer, slowly stir in a portion of the flour/water slurry and stir constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon.  Continue adding the slurry as needed, to thicken the gravy.

Serve and enjoy

Next week - Kettle Corn

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