Friday, July 18, 2014

Savory Braised Roast with my CMR Spice

In my post of July 11, I wrote about making cookies using a spice mixture I made, called CMR Spice Blend. My idea was that this spice blend, containing both "sweet" spices and some more commonly thought of as "savory," could easily be used in both types of applications. My original idea when mixing these spices was as a sweet application despite the unusual combination of flavors. Once tasted in the cookies I made, I realized that although it tasted great in cookies, it could also taste great in a savory meal. But what kind of savory application?

CMR Spiced Rump Roast with Gravy
A couple of mornings ago I got out a completely frozen rump roast, with absolutely no ideas on what to do with it for dinner. I used my defrost setting on the microwave, setting it only for a 1 pound piece of meat, while this roast was easily 3 1/2 or 4 pounds. I do this because I just want to get the thaw process started, without ever getting to a point of cooking the edges. To me there is nothing worse than that microwaved cooked flavor on the edges of meat. So, with the roast still extremely solid, I got out my heavy enameled cast iron pot, still with no real idea on what to do for flavoring. I could have just as easily used my crock pot, but this time I thought I would use the oven as it was a nice cool day.

I cut up an onion into thin slices and tossed them in the pot, along with a carrot cut into a couple of pieces and some celery. I set the meat on top of these vegetables to keep liquid circulating below. Flavorings, hmmm... And I saw my CMR Spice Blend there in the cabinet and thought this would be the day to try it in a savory meal. I added in 2 tablespoons of the spice blend. I also had a small amount of red Port wine left on the counter, possibly a half cup, so following the idea of sweet and savory together, I poured that in. Along with a few other ingredients, I had my roast all ready to cook. I set the covered pot in the oven at 300 degrees to start. This method is technically called braising. The roast sets high out of the liquids, and the lid ensures a nice steamy method of cooking.

After 2 1/2 hours I went to check on the roast because while the house smelled wonderful, I certainly didn't want the roast to burn. It still had plenty of liquid, but I added in a cup of water anyway, thinking that gravy would be nice later. I lowered the oven to 275 degrees, as the pot was bubbling well when I opened the lid, and I wanted it to cook more slowly. Two more hours and the roast was done really nicely. Rump roasts seem to be inherently tougher. There is little real fat marbling in the meat. Still, when you get a side of beef, there will be rump roasts. This recipe would work with any piece of meat that needs a long, slow cooking time.

CMR Spiced Rump Roast

serves 6 to 8
CMR Spiced Rump Roast with gravy over mashed potatoes

1 - 2 onions
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1 carrot, cut into 2 pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 2 pieces each
1 (about 4-pound) rump roast
a few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablespoons CMR Spice Blend I 
1 1/2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet (to make the gravy a deep color)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup red Port wine or other liquid of choice
1 cup water or other liquid of choice, if needed

To thicken gravy:

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Set oven to 300 degrees. Place the sliced onions, garlic, carrot and celery into a 6 or 7 quart, heavy-duty pot with lid (such as enameled cast iron). Set the roast on top. 

If your roast is not frozen, it will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours in total to cook. If it is frozen, count about 4 1/2 hours cook time, so prepare accordingly.

Set the thyme sprigs alongside the roast. Sprinkle on the CMR Spice Blend and salt. Add the Kitchen Bouquet. Kitchen Bouquet makes a nice rich gravy color, but is optional. Pour in the Port wine or other liquid, cover the pot and set in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Check for liquid. If the roast was not frozen to start, it may be completely cooked through at this time. If the roast was frozen, reduce the oven to 275 degrees and add liquid if needed. Cover and place in oven for another 2 to 2 1/2 house, until cooked through and tender.  

Remove roast to a plate. Discard the thyme sprigs, carrot and celery. If you want a smooth gravy, strain the liquid to remove any vegetables. If bits of onion in the gravy are acceptable, leave the liquid as is. Whisk together the water and flour to a smooth consistency. If it is not smooth, strain this mixture into the pot, whisking briskly to combine. Set the pot over medium heat and stir until the liquid has thickened. Allow the gravy to continue to cook for a few minutes longer to cook out the starchy flavor.

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.