Thinking Ahead When Cooking

November 19, 2010  •  Meat & Poultry, Sauces

I know many of you are time crunched, and even though you may enjoy cooking, don’t have the time to spend in the kitchen that you’d like. One of the easiest things you can do is to think ahead when cooking and cook a greater quantity of something that you can use in more than one dish. A braised chuck roast is a perfect example.Start with the regular technique of browning the roast, but instead, cook up 2 of them (or even 4 if you have two large Dutch ovens). I prefer to brown my meat in the oven at a very high roasting temp – 450 or more – so I don’t need to clean up grease splatter around the stove.Throw some mirepoix (onion, carrots, and celery) in the bottom of a Dutch oven……then lay the roasts on top of the mirepoix. Two standard size chuck roasts fit into an average Dutch oven.Fill the Dutch oven with enough liquid to just about cover the roasts. I use chicken or beef stock plus maybe a little red wine, but in a pinch you could use water. I also like to toss in a good handful of fresh parsley for flavor.Follow the standard braising technique that you read about so much from me during the cooler months – cover, roast low and slow, don’t take it out until it’s falling from the bone or falling apart, usually about 4 hours. But here’s the thinking ahead part – did you know that cooked meat freezes pretty well? So if you make 2-4 roasts, you can start with some sliced for dinner that night (make pan gravy from the braising liquid – see below) and freeze the rest. I divided mine up and froze one large piece whole to be sliced for another roast beef dinner, and then shredded a bunch of the meat to be used in stews, pasta dishes, burritos, and tacos. I highly recommend something like the FoodSaver machine that pulls out all of the air before sealing the bags – food will last MUCH longer in the freezer this way and you’ll avoid freezer burn. I almost always make more than we need for dinner and freeze extras in single dinner serving sizings – you’ll save time in the kitchen for sure, and you’ll always have tasty, home-cooked food ready to go!

Basic Gravy
Yields 2 cups

2 cups braising liquid (see note)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat braising liquid to just under boiling in a saucepan. Mash butter and flour together with a fork until blended, then use a whisk to stir it into the braising liquid. Continue heating until it bubbles and thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

Note: You’ll get the best flavor for your gravy by using using a braising technique that includes aromatic vegetables like carrots, celery and onions. After removing the meat from the liquid, strain out and discard the solids, the proceed to make the gravy with the reserved liquid. In a real pinch you can just use beef or chicken stock with this technique, but you’ll lack the depth of flavor you get from using the braising liquid.


2 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Peggy says:

    I definitely agree that thinking ahead is the right thing to do! This roast looks fabulous!

  2. Denny Bhairo says:

    I’ve invited the family round this xmas for a traditional dinner, so obviously the roast is pretty central to that.. I found a tonne of recipes at this roast recipe site, but cant decide on one in particular – there’s too many to choose from! It’s fun planning such a big christmas dinner though!

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