Trying to decide what we’re having for dinner is liken to an unending loop of a scene from the film Marty. “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know, Marty, what do you want to do?”
“What do you want for dinner?”
“I don’t know. What do YOU want for dinner?”
Only the person who asks the question first has an advantage … “Well, I asked you first,” is usually the (not so) snappy retort.
Pick a protein, pick an ethnicity, give me a jumping point and I’ll happily create something, but please decide before I leave for town …
This entire stressful, daily conversation usually takes place before 8:00 am.
This one particular day, a Saturday even, I was saved by a rather large box in the mail. From KitchenAid. A box from KitchenAid is ALWAYS a good thing.
A little back story … When the Dear One and I moved all my worldly possessions to Maine 2 1/2 years ago, my slow cooker was the last thing placed on the truck. When we opened the doors some 9 bouncy hours later, the ceramic liner for my slow cooker was the first thing off the truck … KER-plunk … SMASH … sadness.
It’s has taken me that long to pick up the phone and call KitchenAid (BTW, some of the BEST customer service around) and order a new one. I was SURE it would be expensive. I was SURE they wouldn’t have it. I was SURE wrong! It was very, very reasonable and the shipping was $2!
While opening the box I knew, just knew, that whatever “what-do-you-want-Marty” meal I was going to cook was definitely going into the slow cooker.
There’s something wonderful and magical about the slow cooker … food goes in, you set it, go about your day, come back to a home filled with wonderful aromas, a couple of quick sides and you’re done.
But what to make?
Wait! In our chest freezer in the bowels on our basement is a chuck roast. The Dear One offered to do the grocery shopping one morning. Thrilled with the idea of rolling over and going back to sleep for a while, I acquiesced. (As an aside, I love food shopping. There’s something about looking at food, loving picking out produce, picking just the right cut of meat or fish that’s just so … well, my fellow foodies, I know you understand.) Back to the Dear One. He wanted a roast. Okay. I made a list and sent him off into the world. He returned with a chuck roast. Not really a Sunday dinner kinda roast cut so I scowled at it and sent it off to the freezer, mostly to be forgotten.
Gazing through the slow cooker books on my shelf, I came across The Italian Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone. I’ve had this recipe for Beef in Barolo bookmarked from my very first pass through the book. What cut of meat does it take, you may wonder. Well, a CHUCK ROAST. The Dear One has been saved, the roast has been liberated from the icy depths.
And what a recipe it is! The cloves give the beef and sauce a wonderful warmth, the wine and pancetta … just layer after layer of flavor. There is the bit that early in the morning you’re searing a hunk-o-beef and veggies, but so worth it in the end!
- 1/3 C all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 3-pound boneless beef chuck or bottom round roast
- 3 T olive oil
- 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 C dry red wine, such as Barolo
- 2 C peeled, seeded, and chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
- 1 C beef broth
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 medium celery rib, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch of ground cloves
NOTE: Even here in culinary wasteland of Bar Harbor I was able to find chopped pancetta in the specialty deli section. I always keep a few of these in the freezer for a quick meal and to avoid chopping. I used the wine I had on hand and open. As long as you’d actually drink it and it’s dry any red wine will do.
Combine the flour with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture on a piece of wax paper and roll the meat in the flour.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown it on all sides, about 15 minutes. Place the meat in a large slow cooker. Add the pancetta and onion to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender. Stir in the garlic. Add the wine and bring it to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan.
Pour the mixture over the beef. Add the tomatoes and broth. Scatter the carrots, celery, bay leaf, and ground cloves around the meat. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.
Transfer the meat to a platter. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce. Slice the meat and spoon on the sauce.
NOTE: I served this over garlic mashed potatoes, but polenta would be wonderful. Sadly, the Dear One isn’t fond of polenta.
Filed under: Beef, Dinner, Maine food blog, One Pot Meals, Recipe blog, recipes, Slow Cooker, Slow Roasted | Tagged: beef, Dinner, Maine Food, Maine food blog, Recipe blog, Recipes, Slow Cooker | 2 Comments »