Saturday, March 29, 2014

Crock Pot to the Rescue - Again

There are days I am just unprepared. No ideas in mind for dinner at all. It's already after 10:30 AM and I have nothing thawed. What to do?

I went to the freezer and mulled a bit. We have a freezer full of a half a cow, so it isn't that there aren't options. Still. It's been such a long winter. Far too cold except very recently to even consider grilling. I have made my One Skillet Hamburger Meal about 15 times in the last few months. At least it seems that way. I've made stews over and over. A couple of roasts, either in the crock pot or oven. The trouble is that most of the meat is either hamburger or roasts. Some of them are cut strangely and look far different than what you see in the supermarket. Anyway, to make a long story shorter, I got out a chuck roast.
Crock Pot BBQ Chuck served on Root Vegetable Flatbread

The roast was probably about 2 1/2 or 3 pounds, though I forgot to weigh it to see. It was very thick, but small enough around to set into my crock pot. To speed things up just a bit, I put the roast into the microwave to defrost just a little. I never thaw something completely in the microwave. I hate to even use the microwave at all, frankly. With that in mind, I set it to defrost something that weighed 1 pound. I turned it over twice during that short period. It was still hard as a rock when I was done, but I know it had to have some effect. 

Next I wondered what to do for flavor. My husband has always loved roast beef, but since he had some bad teeth, then had to have one extracted, and it didn't heal as well as it might have, due to constantly chomping down on things, he has been rather resistant to the idea of a roast. The pieces are larger, and it's too much bother to cut them smaller for eating. So I have made a couple of roasts, but he doesn't come back for leftovers. Not good, because that usually means I need to make something else. And who gets to eat the leftovers? 

I recently had made a new batch of my:

Sweet Tangy BBQ Sauce

Sweet Tangy BBQ Sauce
Makes 5 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil (or other cooking oil of choice)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 jalapeno, seeds & membranes removed, finely minced
½ cup pineapple juice
¼ cup orange juice
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons Barbecue Spice Mix (below)
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon celery seed
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
½ cup honey
3 cups ketchup
1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into ½-inch cubes

Mince the garlic and the jalapeno together and set aside. Heat a large saucepan. Chop the onion finely. Put the oil into the hot pan and add the onion, along with the salt and sauté at medium heat for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the onion is deep golden brown. Add in the reserved garlic and jalapeno and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add in the juices and stir to dissolve any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add in the Barbecue Spice Mix, black pepper, ground ginger and celery seed and stir to combine. Add in the mustard and tamarind paste and stir to dissolve the tamarind. Add in the honey and ketchup, with the liquid smoke if using. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, being very careful it does not splatter on you. Cover the pan, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, remove lid and add in 2 little cubes of the cold butter at a time, stirring to dissolve before adding more.

Allow the sauce to cool before storing in the refrigerator. If desired, it may be frozen until needed. 

Barbecue Spices
Barbecue Spices

Barbecue Spice Mix

Makes ½ cup

4 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons smoked paprika (Pimenton de la Vera)
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground cassia cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground thyme
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon ground dried ginger
¼ teaspoon dried chipotle powder

Directions: Combine all herbs and spices together and store in a glass jar with tight fitting lid.

NOTES: If using as a spice rub for a meat, mix into the entire amount: ¼ cup each of Kosher Salt and light brown sugar. Mix well and rub all over one whole chicken, cut up and allow to rest overnight, refrigerated, before grilling.

I was thinking BBQ, though I had never really done this with beef. I decided to chop a half onion left in the fridge and threw that into the bottom of the crock pot. I set the roast on top of the onions, to allow some juices to get underneath the meat while cooking. I poured on 1 cup of the BBQ Sauce. I happened to have a bottle of Fonseca Bin 27 Port setting on the counter (we hadn't gotten around to finishing the bottle), so I poured in 1/2 cup of the port. I added 3 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly, 2 little bay leaves and a teaspoon of salt. Put the lid on, turned it to the higher temperature and hoped for the best.

After 6 hours, the meat was tender and there was plenty of sauce in the pot, though it was thinner than my husband likes. It did have a lot of fat floating on top, so I took some paper towels and did a quick slide over the surface to pick up fat. It took quite a few of those half-sheets sized paper towels to get most of the extra fat off there. I took the roast out and mixed up about 3/4 cup of water with a half cup of flour and whisked that into the pot. Still on high, it came back to a simmer quickly, so I covered it and let it go. Meanwhile, I started pulling the meat off the bones and other thick things in there - I tell you, this "chuck" looks nothing like chuck in the grocery. All in all, there wasn't that much meat, considering the size of the original roast. It was still plenty though, so once I had it off bones, and took off any fat, I shredded the meat and added it back to the pot. It tasted really great. I am sure the port was not 100% necessary, but it would add just that little sweetness, so it's up to you.

Crock Pot BBQ Chuck

Crock Pot BBQ Chuck

Serves about 6

1 chuck roast 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
1 cup Sweet Tangy BBQ Sauce, or your favorite brand
1/2 cup port, or other liquid
1 small onion, diced
2 - 3 gloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt

To Thicken:
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup flour

Place the onion in the bottom of the crock pot and set the roast on top. Pour the BBQ sauce and port over the roast and add in the garlic, bay leaves and salt. Cover and cook about 6 hours on high if the roast is frozen or mostly frozen, or on low if the meat is thawed. Turn the meat over once during this period so both sides are flavored well. 

Once cooked through, remove the roast from the pot and set on a plate until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, whisk together briskly the water and flour. If it is too lumpy, pour it through a strainer into the crock pot to thicken the sauce, whisking at first to blend well. Cover the pot while working with the meat, allowing the sauce to thicken and the starchy taste to cook out.

Remove any bones or large chunks of fat from the meat. Shred the meat as desired, then add it back to the pot to reheat through. This is good on a bun, or on my Root Vegetable Flatbreads.

I had made another recipe sort of on the fly the night before. It was a Root Vegetable Flatbread of a sort. It turned out almost like one big hash brown with cheese on top. I used grated potato, carrot, parsnip, scallion, sundried tomatoes, egg, flour, baking powder and salt. It was topped with some cheese at the end of baking. The cheese is up to your taste, or what is handy. I used a combination of shredded cheddar and some leftover 3-cheese Italian blend. Shredded Pepperjack would be great, or cheddar and jack cheese. It tasted good, but it was not "wow" good. I made myself some eggs and used the flatbread to stack with the eggs. It was a very good use. I want to play with that recipe a bit more, though there was nothing specifically wrong with it as it stands. When I finished with the Chuck Roast with BBQ I though that might taste good on that flatbread, and it did. It was really tasty!

Root Vegetable Flatbread

about 12 or 16 thin, square or rectangle slices

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, shredded
1 carrot peeled, shredded
1 parsnip, peeled, shredded
4 large scallions, minced
3 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pepper, to taste
4 sundried tomato halves, minced
2 eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups grated cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 if on Convection). Place the first 8 ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and olive oil and mix to combine. Stir together the flour with the baking powder, then mix in to combine. Grease or spray a medium baking sheet with sides. Spread the mixture evenly over the surface. Bake the pan in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and strew the cheese over top evenly. Bake for 5 minutes longer, until cheese is melted. 

This is what I did with the flatbread the previous night for my dinner.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.