By this time of the year, pot roast (boneless beef chuck roast, in this case) has lost the patina or excitement it so raptly held last fall. It’s been cold awhile and we’ve been eating “comfort food” for months. While the price hasn’t dropped much over all, there was a twofer sale at our local grocery and of course I still stocked up. The list for meat in the big garage freezer boasts way too many possibilities, but 4 pot roasts was still scratched onto its bottom. What to do with the first one for a special weekend meal? (Stay tuned about what fate awaits the rest of them.)
The famous Italian dish, Tortellini en brodo, is a beautiful, well-known holiday pasta and broth soup upon which my simplified, shredded-beef American version is based. I truly didn’t have this dish in mind, I just happened to have a pot roast, a bunch of tortellini, and a desire for something besides the things I usually make with pot roast on a cold snowy day: pot roast and vegetables, beef-vegetable soup, beef-barley soup, beef burgundy, and so on.
If you’d like to make the real Tortellini en brodo, visit a blog that has the directions in English; many are in Italian! Here’s a good home-made blogger’s version (Stefan’s Gourmet Blog) that is totally from scratch, including the meat filling for the tortellini, and looks luscious. If you’d rather have a little video action and a Mario Batali recipe, here’s that link. The simplest shortcut recipe is here. In other words, you’re not cooking meat for broth, bones for stock, or making homemade pasta and filling in my soup, but you are cooking a pot roast! And while my ingredients’ list isn’t short, the method is simple and gives you time for other things.
Because while writing the recipe, I realized it sounds long and ponderous, you can read — and cook from, if you like — the basic method, or the short version:
Brown a well-seasoned pot roast with carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and fennel and cook until tender — 2 – 2 1/2 hours — in wine, tomatoes, and broth (a little more than 3 quarts liquid) with bay leaf, dried oregano, and basil. Shred the beef, chop or puree the cooked vegetables, and cook the pasta and peas in the broth while you do that. Stir it all together, add a small handful of fresh basil and garnish in bowls with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
While the beef cooks, a couple of hours, you have time to work on a project, read a good book, watch a movie, or have coffee with a friend. If you’d like to cook this in the slow cooker, I think you would have some success, though I haven’t tried it. A link for similar recipe made in a slow cooker (tortellini is added the last twenty minutes) is here. Buon appetite! Continue reading
Over the holidays, and since, we’ve been making big pots of soup when we weren’t finishing off the leftovers. Colds, strep throat, and the need for lighter fare after all the heavy meals were the instigators, but the weather contributed… Today, the sun came out to melt the snow–
and it was time for something else: real cooking in the oven maybe? Two big pot roasts called my name at the store the other day, and one of them simply jumped into the Dutch oven cut up with a big bunch of cooked green chiles and onions. Sounded incredibly homey–a beef and green chile braise kept coming to mind (rather than chili, per se)–but I also decided to whip up a pot of cheddar mashed potatoes to keep it company. A side of barely tender green beans, stirred up with just the teensiest bit of butter rounded out the meal.
Dave’s on the road (he’ll have his share Friday night), but Sean and I each had a lovely bowl of this goodness and, when we did, we happened to look out the big, low window in the sun room that’s becoming my dining room only to meet eyes with a great big, muscular bobcat (lynx.) Living in Colorado has its beautiful moments. And other things. The dogs said zip. Scaredy cats. Which was good; they were staying inside. Continue reading