Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Recycled Pot Roast

It was our intention this most recent holiday season to make a Christmas dinner that took the least amount of prep work and little or no attention while cooking. We wanted everything to be easy, yet delicious, so we made a pot roast.

We had purchased a slab of chuck at Wegman's a few months earlier from which came a delicious pot roast, so we went there once again to purchase our meat. We found a 3+ pound roast for about $23 and thought we could do better with the "family pack" bulk roasts down the aisle. Indeed we did - there a two-pack that weighed about 5.5 pounds cost only $21 and change. Curious. Two pounds more meat for two fewer dollars.

After roasting our bargain meat with potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and onions, it turned out we didn't need nearly that amount of beef to feed the family. A whole roast went into the fridge, with part of it ending up as cold pot roast sandwiches topped with enough horseradish sauce to make our sinuses hurt. The rest of it - about a pound and a half - went into a luscious, meaty tomato sauce. There was also a bunch of leftover onion gravy (a puree of the meat juices and about 2 cups of the quartered onion that had cooked along with the meat, seasoned with a bit of Worcestershire and herbs) so about a cup of that got added to the sauce pot as well. If you don't have any mild onion gravy leftover from your roast, or your gravy is too strongly "gravy"-flavored, you can omit it and still end up with something that's pretty delicious.

Pot Roast Pasta Sauce

2 cups diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic, finely minced
pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup vodka
2 32-oz cans crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
1 - 1.5 lbs leftover pot roast, cut into approx 1" x 3" slabs
1 cup leftover pot roast gravy (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
sugar (optional)

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, cook the onion and carrot in 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt until softened but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. After a minute or so, pour in the vodka. Turn up the heat a little and cook until the vodka has mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes. Add the pot roast, gravy, and oregano. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low. Simmer sauce for 2-4 hours, until pot roast has pretty much disintegrated and the sauce is thick.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the sauce seems a bit acidy and needs balance, add a teaspoon or two of sugar. Serve over your favorite pasta, with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Makes about 2.5 quarts.

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