Kathy pitts' pot roast

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Don't really have a recipe, David, but would you settle for directions on how to make one?

First select a good-sized hunk of not too tender beef roast. A 3-5 lb. hunk of chuck, bottom round or brisket would be good. Look for a fairly lean piece that has at least some fat marbling inside and a light fat coating on the outside.

Select a covered casserole or Dutch oven large enough to hold the roast with a bit of room left over. Place the cooking pot on the stove, and add enough oil or fat (rendered bacon fat is good, if not heart healthy) to the pot to cover the bottom to the depth of about ¼ inch. Heat the fat over medium-high heat until it is hot, but not smoking.

Meanwhile, either dry the outside of the roast very well with paper towels or roll it in flour seasoned lightly with pepper, maybe some garlic salt, whatever other herbs seem appropriate.

When the fat is hot, add the roast, and brown well on all sides.

Take your time with this. You want a nice, crusty coating, but you don't want to burn it. Remove the browned roast from the pan, and set aside.

Add about one cup of chopped onion, ½ cup of chopped celery and ½ cup of diced carrots to the fat remaining in the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until this mixture is nice and brown. Drain off most of the remaining fat, leaving the vegetables in the pot.

Smooth the vegetables out to make a base for the roast, and add the roast to the pot. Now add enough liquid (beef stock, ¾ beef stock plus ¼ dry red wine, tomato juice, whatever you feel like) to come about ¼ inch over the bottom of the beef. The amount of liquid you need (don't use too much or the beef will boil instead of braising) will depend on the size of the pot and the size/shape of the roast.

Cover the pot, and either simmer on top of the stove over very low heat, or place it in a preheated 325 degree oven. Either way, check the roast every half hour or so, turning the meat occasionally, and adding more liquid as needed.

After an hour or so, you can add small whole peeled carrots, peeled potato halves or whatever other vegetables appeal to you to the roast. If you do this, tuck the vegetables around the side of the roast so they sit in the liquid.

Cooking time will depend on the cut of beef, and the tenderness of the meat, but you can count on at least 2-2½ hours. The meat is done when a large cooking fork can be inserted easily.

At this point, remove the meat and vegetables (if used) to a serving platter and keep warm.

Pour the liquid remaining in the pan through a strainer, into a bowl, pressing down on the strainer to extract as much of the juices from the chopped vegetables as possible.

Skim the fat from the surface of the juices, and return about 4 tbsp.

of fat to the cooking pot (do not wash the pot first, any goodies remaining in the bottom will add to the flavor of the gravy.) Add an equal amount of flour to the fat in the pot, and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour/fat mixture has turned a nice brown color (about the color of peanut butter.) Slowly wisk the reserved cooking juices back into the flour/fat mixture, adding additional liquid as needed to make a smooth, not too thick gravy. Season the gravy to taste with salt and black pepper.

Slice the pot roast into fairly thin, even slices, and cover with a small amount of gravy. Serve garnished with the vegetables (if used), and the additional gravy on the side.

Kathy in Bryan, TX

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