Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Italian Pot Roast (Stracotto) (p. 477)

This is not a roast. It is in a pot, but it is not roasted, it's braised. So I actually find the name fairly annoying.

I also want to introduce my beautiful Cuisinart Stock Pot/Dutch Oven that my godmother, Judy, bought me. It is an awesome piece of equipment and this was it's virgin use! I'm kind of turning away from teflon and nonstick coatings. I hate the constant worry about scratching them and I want the ability to stick them in the dishwasher if I want to. I got mostly kitchen equipment for Christmas, as I hoped for--thank you Mom, Dad and Vickie, Judy, and Charlotte!!!

My beautiful new pot...notice my cute blue salt pig behind it...

This recipe pretty much boils down to this--prepare the meat, make a mirepoix, mix wine and tomato paste, reduce, mix wine and beef broth, reduce, and then mix wine, broth, and tomatoes. Cook it forever. This recipe honestly took me 4 hours. It was a strange choice on a Monday night.

First, you make a herb mixture. I doubled the garlic. Half of this gets stuffed into the meat:

Stuff it into the meat (in this case, a blade roast):

Brown the meat. This was a challenge. The meat did NOT want to cooperate and it kept collapsing and splashing me with boiling oil. It was not pleasant. I thought that browning it for twenty minutes was a really bad idea. I've always heard that the idea that browning meat keeps the juices in was an urban legend--plus this is getting braised--there would be no way for it to be dry. So if it's just for aesthetic value, I don't want to brown it too much. Even with this concern, I think the pan was too hot and that I browned it to much.

I'm sure you are pondering our ugly plates at this point in the blog. I really need to buy a plate to photograph on. The clear plates were Josh's...I'm not sure why ANYONE would want to see their lap while they were eating but maybe that's just me.

So then you take the meat out of the pot, add the mirepoix, mushrooms, a bay leaf, the rest of the herb mixture, and eventually some wine and tomato paste. It's then cooked down until almost dry. This takes forever. Each reduction step is time consuming. I'm beginning to think this is a weekend roast I'm working on.

After a bunch of reductions, the browned meat is added and cooked for about 2.5 hours. And it smells wonderful. So you will start to get starving hungry with no food in sight.

The finished meat product, sliced. Admire the tasty pockets of herb mixture:

Finished product with sauce. I reduced the sauce (without the meat) at a boil for about fifteen minutes.

This is one of those recipes that has a lot of leftovers. So far, Josh ate it for about four more meals and said it was great for every one of them.

TJOC said that the sauce can be used on pasta, so I tried it. Wow....it was really good. Tomato-y, beefy, wine-y...really good. And it makes A LOT of extra sauce, so you have to use it for something. I mix a little minced garlic in with it, but it's really good. The sauce has (so far) yielded two additional meals, and will probably yield two more.

So, all in all, this recipe has served us 8 meals (2 orginal meals, 4 leftover meals for Josh, 2 pasta meals for me) and probably has around 3 more meals to go. That is a lot of value out of an $8 piece of meat.

Josh declared this his favorite recipe that TJOC has produced thus far. Better than crepes, better than curry mayo, better than all of things that we make often...I can't recommend this recipe enough. I'm SURE that we will make it again.

In other cooking news, when I was in Des Moines, I stopped at Penzey's (http://www.penzeys.com/), which is a spice store. I LOVE this store. It's a dangerous place for me to enter because I drop a ton of cash every time I go there. I got in an very interesting discussion with the manager about ricers (I think I sold him on one! I should get a kickback!). I lusted after high end curry and bought about fifteen spices, along with their DELICIOUS minced garlic that Josh and I use in large quantities, and three differant types of salt. I also bought juniper berries. I have no idea what to do with these. When Josh asked what they are used for, I told him gin production. Since he knows full well I'm not going to make gin, he asked what else they were used for. I told him they are common in Albanian cuisine (I seem to remember that from the placard in front of the spice). He was also aware that I don't even know what Albanian cuisine consists of. So do you know what to use them for?


  1. Jess -
    I'm really glad you liked the pot you got for Christmas! Sounds like you're really getting into your new "Hobby"! Your Mom said you really helped her out at Thanksgiving! Hope you liked your roasting pan as well!

    Maybe we can trade recipes some time.


  2. OMG that looks sooo good.

    I think I'll try this with my family...

    Is the recipie online???

  3. I'm not sure that any of Joy's recipes are online. That being said, you can buy a copy of TJOC fairly cheap--they were 50% off at Border's recently.

  4. I just stumbled on your blog today and I'm very excited to add it to my favorites. I just got TJOC for Christmas (along with some corning wear) and I'm real excited. I've attempted a few things, but I'll look to you for the best of the best and tips for a successful meal!

  5. Wow what a feast! And hey you should've filled me on in this spice place before I went to Des Moines, lol. And haha, I finally got a ricer this year after coveting one for some time. :)
    Oh and I have you an award thingie on my blog ;)

  6. I LOVE my ricer. It is one of those stupid things that you think you'll never use but it makes mashed potatoes SOOOO much fluffier.

  7. You use juniper berries for Sauerbraten. It's in TJOC a few pages after the Stracotto. :>


I love comments! Please let me know what you think!

I'm really sorry, I hate comment moderation, but I've been getting annoying Japanese spam messages lately so...comment moderation has started.