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Mmm, meaty. July 10, 2008

Posted by sarawr in herbs & spices, red meat, roasts.

If you’re not a vegetarian, you probably love roasts. If you’re me, you’re also a little intimidated by them; it’s hard to get a roast just right, and I’ve been trying for years. I’ve been beset by all the usual problems — meat comes out too dry, a roast that looks substantial at the market shrinks during cooking to something more appropriate for a small cat than a family of three, the meat is just right but the vegetables are mushy — and I’d begun to despair of ever getting it right. Thankfully, I think I finally did. A few nights ago I was faced with the letdown that comes after an amazing week, the lack of energy that comes from days without sleep and a looming deadline, and a roast I’d almost forgotten about. I kind of went “aww, to hell with it” and just tossed things together. Here’s the (delicious) result:

A smallish roast (three or four pounds)
Four or five red potatoes
A couple of handfuls of baby carrots
Half of a purple onion
A cup and a half of butternut squash
A quarter cup or so of V8 or plain tomato juice
Decent butter
A little olive oil
Various seasonings

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and prepare your roasting pan by buttering it very lightly (you can use cooking spray too, but your vegetables will be distinctly lacking in flavor). Dice up your carrots, onion, potatoes, and squash and toss them together in the pan. Get about 3/4 of a cup of hot water and add pepper, salt, parsley, some finely chopped garlic, a sprinkle of paprika, and just a splash of soy sauce. Pour this over the vegetables and let everything sit.

Once that’s done, sear the roast in about a tablespoon of olive oil and half a tablespoon of butter. When I say sear, I mean it — you don’t want to brown your meat here so much as you want to crisp the outer layer. Don’t turn the heat all the way up, but get it pretty darn close — about thirty seconds on each side should do it. Let the roast cool a bit, then place it on top of the vegetables with the most fatty side up. Sprinkle the meat with pepper, a dash of Tabasco, and more chopped garlic. Pour the V8 over it until the roast is well-covered but the juice isn’t really involved with the vegetables. Cover the whole thing (if you’re using foil, lightly butter or spray it so that it doesn’t stick to the roast) and pop it in the oven for two hours.

If this wasn’t just a fluke, the meat should come out meltingly tender while the vegetables are firm, flavorful, and just a little bit crisp where they’ve touched the pan. I’d love it if some of you would try this and let me know how it works; I want to do it again, but I have been well-schooled by experience to expect recipes this good to fail miserably upon re-attempt. Good luck!



1. scruffy - July 10, 2008

How do you get the searing surface hot enough fast enough to sear the meat before you burn the butter?

(Clarified butter is a nuisance, I know, but it obviates this problem.)

2. Mer - July 12, 2008

Scruffy: You can head to your local indian market and grab yourself some Ghee, which is another name for pre-clarified butter. It’s not that much more expensive, and it’s dead convenient if you need clarified butter regularly. Also, it’s shelf-stable.

My secret to perfect roasts? A probe thermometer. Best kitchen thingy EVAR.

3. sarawr - July 12, 2008

Alternately, you can follow the directions and do only a tiny bit of butter with significantly more oil. 😉

You could, of course, sear the meat with straight oil, but I find that adding a little butter really gets the texture better — sears the outside without making it crunchy, and helps the roast fat soften up so it can soak down through the whole thing as it cooks. (Mmm, softened fat! YUM!)

4. sleepyscruffy - July 12, 2008

me follow directions? 😛

Mer: I LOVE probe thermometers. But the one in my oven doesn’t work and there are no more parts, and I’ve killed two of the little battery ones by getting the cables wet. When will somebody make one of those that doesn’t die if you look at it crosseyed?

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