Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meat and Potatoes

This year I’ve faced some culinary fears—carving a whole roasted chicken and making mashed potatoes among my little victories—but I still seem mostly to stay away from mom-type meals. Somewhere along my development as a cook, it appears I decided I wouldn't try to replicate my mom's dishes and instead learned to cook the kind of meals she didn’t serve. I supplemented my mother’s cooking with my own: Polish food there, other ethnic foods here. You won’t find me making homemade sauerkraut, and you won’t find my mom making cold sesame noodles. I’m more apt to make a single piece of fish or a pasta dish or a stir fry, or soups and chili that I can divvy up or freeze easily, leaving meat and potatoes to my mom. Making a roast for myself seems silly. Especially since my mother is a pro at it.

But I like to entertain…and how long, really, can you be a foodie and claim to be a good cook before you pony up and tackle a roast? Without the assistance of a Crockpot.

pork and potatoes
 I took baby steps. Early last month I made a pork tenderloin, which is not a roast, I know, but I served it with mashed potatoes and gravy, which I made starting with mushrooms I sautéed in the pan I had seared the pork. Lo and behold, my plate looked like Meat and Potatoes. And, according to Amy, with whom I shared some for lunch the next day, it was restaurant-worthy. The pork was cooked perfectly, the mashed potatoes were the right texture, and the gravy had good flavor and consistency.

So potatoes and gravy I could do. No fear there. But what about that roast? A real beef roast? ( Roast beef?) My wheels were turning. I saw Giada braise, and Ina braise. I went on and looked up recipes. I knew what I wanted to do. And then the stars aligned.

My sister Mary gave me a porcelain cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas that I had to try, ShopRite had a sale on roasts, and we had a blizzard. So while I was snowed in I made this braised roast. And I was so pleased with the melt-in-your-mouth results, I invited my parents for dinner the next day to share it with them.

I do believe I’ve graduated.


Amy said...

Congratulations! Looks yummy!

Tam said...

My hat's off to you! Can't do a roast to save my life.

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