Fragrant Pot Roast

So I deviate a lot from plans. Mostly when it comes to food. I mean, I think I know what I want to make, plan the menu, but then something happens, like I come across an ingredient in a store that I just have to make, or something like and event throws the whole menu off. So where is this going? Very simple, I made an addition to my last week’s menu: I made pot roast. Initially, I made it for the wrong reasons: it was easy to make, it was not a lot of prep, I had little time blah blah.HOWEVER, it was the coziest, most satisfying dish to have on a December afternoon. Also, I love nothing more than a good piece of meat (true story).

So what makes it “fragrant” (sounds weird, but I could not think of a better word), is the herbs. Make sure they are fresh, not dry. It really makes the world of difference. Ultimately, you can also use any vegetables you’d like here (zucchini, squash) or omit the vegetables all-together and serve it with rice (but then make sure you add more broth to the pot, because it’s the vegetables that release some the liquid when they cook).

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So the roast: it’s pretty simple and full proof (you could also do this in a slow cooker, hence no oversight at all). For me, the most important is to first fry the roast on all sides to add some crust and color.

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Fragrant Pot Roast

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All the main characters (minus the veggies)

  • 2-3 pound Chuck Roast
  • variety of herbs: rosemary; thyme; tarragon
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bag of fingerling potatoes
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 cup of sliced/diced mushrooms
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 300F
  2. Liberally salt and pepper the roast.
  3. Chop the herbs, and rub them all over the roast. Make small cuts in the Roast and stuff the garlic cloves into the holes. Let the Roast rest.
  4. Chop/dice the vegetables and place them in a separate bowl
  5. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven (or another oven safe pot/cast iron pot)
  6. Brown the roast on all sides until brown in color (not too long, about 2-3 minutes each side)
  7. Remove the roast; in the same pot add more oil and toss in the vegetables and sauté
  8. Once the vegetables are done, place the Roast in the pot, moving the veggies around to surround the Roast.
  9. At this point, if desired, you can add a bit of wine and/or beef broth (don’t overdo it, because you don’t want your vegetables to be swimming in water).
  10. Place the pot in the oven and cook for about 2.5-3 hours (depending on the oven you have, mine is electric and cooks things a lot faster, if you have a gas one, it may take longer so the time is an estimate, use your judgment)
  11. Take the Roast out and let rest for a bit. The meat should be falling apart when pulled by a fork, that’s how tender it should be (and it obviously should not bleed).
  12. Use lotsa bread to dip, and enjoy with a glass of wine!

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Pelmeni – Russian version of Tortelini

There is nothing more cozy on a cold December day than a bowl of hot soup. To me, even cozier is a bowl of Pelmeni (or Dushbere in Azerbaijan, except back home we serve it as a soup, with the water). These are pieces of heaven (ok fine, dough) stuffed with a delicious meat mixture, boiled in hot water, served with butta (ha ha), sour cream or yogurt and just a tad of herbs. If you can get past the annoying process of making the dough and stuffing each little circle and wrapping it, then you are in for a delicious meal. Sadly, I cannot get over it so I only make it once in a blue moon. Like today. I should have bene studying for my law school finals, but alas, cooking seemed like a better way to spend my day (don’t you worry, I will pay for this).

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Pelmeni

This recipe makes about 50-70 pelmenis

For the filling:

  • 1-1.5 lbs of ground beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful of Parsley (you can add Dill also, I didn’t have any)
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Peel and cut the onion into quarters
  2. Peel the garlic
  3. Wash the parsley/dill
  4. Add everything into a food processor or blender and blend until becomes mushy.
  5. Add everything to the ground meat and mix; the mixture should become soft and watery
  6. Set aside

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Herb and onion mixture

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Meat mixture ready to go

For the dough:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup of cold water
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt
  1. Add the flour and salt to a food processor and mix
  2. Add the egg and the water and process some more
  3. if the mixture is too watery, add more flour little bit at a time; be careful not to over-flour
  4. Alternatively, dump everything on a board or counter covered with flour and knead until the dough comes together and is soft. Be careful not to add too much flour, the dough will become hard.
  5. Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes.

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This is what the dough should look like

Assembling Pelmeni:

  1. Divide the dough into 4 parts
  2. Take each part and roll out as much as you can, not too thin, you don’t want the Pelmeni to rip
  3. Take a class or anything else you have at home that can cut out small circles and press it into the rolled out dough over and over again.
  4. Take the circles, roll it out again (just run a rolling pin over it once) and put about a teaspoon or so of meat filling into it.
  5. Now close the circle, pinch the corners very well
  6. You should now end up with a half moon shape; now take the ends and pinch them together.

At the end your Pelmeni should look like this:

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Finished pelmeni

 

Cooking Pelmeni:

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil; salt it, add a little bit of olive oil to it
  2. Slowly submerge Pelmeni into the water.
  3. As soon as they come up to the top of the pot, they are read. If you are hesitant, wait about 5 minutes and take out with a slotted spoon carefully or drain the whole pot.
  4. Once in your plate, top the Pelmeni with butter, sour cream or yogurt and any herbs you wish (dill, parsley, garlic).
  5. As always, enjoy!

pelmeni-with-yogurt

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See how the dough is not too thin or thick, it cooked through and held the meat in. If you made too much and feel that you won’t eat it all in one sitting, don’t boil it all at once. Put it in the freezer and save it for next time. No such luck for me, my husband devours food so I had to play it safe and cook it all -_-

Here is two ways to eat it: with butter and herbs, or butter and yogurt. You can go crazy and do all three: butter, herbs and yogurt. I promise you can’t go wrong!