Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Success and an Almost success!

Let's start with the almost success, pictured above. Today in my quest to find Rachel's chocolate wedding cake I tried two more recipes. The one on top is actually Baker's One Bowl Chocolate Cake. The change I made there was to use Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of the semi-sweet baking chocolate. I liked it immediately. It has a nice chocolate flavor, it is super easy, and it has a nice moist crumb to it. The cake on the bottom is the recipe off of the back of Ghiardelli Unsweetened Cocoa powder. Again, a good cake, this one with a deep chocolatey flavor. Really close to what I am looking for. But I really like the texture of the Baker's one. So, I plan to combine the two recipes and see what the amalgam will bring me. My intent is to use the Baker's recipe as my base, subbing some of the cocoa for some of the flour, and I plan to add a tiny bit of espresso powder to the melted butter and chocolate to deepen the chocolate flavor. I am hoping for success. I will share the final recipe once I am happy with it. In the meantime, if you would like the recipes I've used today, get yourself a can of Ghardelli Unsweetened Cocoa powder, and Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate. :-p

Now for the success of the day. Pot Roast. I've always thought I had a pretty good pot roast. Although occassionally I overcook it, I have never thought ill of my standard boring pot roast. Until today. In my effort to utilize my cookbooks more, I turned to Fresh Every Day by Sara Foster. Her recipe for Mom's Pot Roast produced not only a fantastic pot roast, but seriously, the most delicious pan juices (read:gravy!) that I have ever experienced. I did make some minor changes, and will do them again in the future. The one major change I made was that I did not use the one cup of red wine called for. Instead I used 1/4 cup Port and 3/4 cup water. I truly think that is what made my pot roast shine. Here is the recipe with my changes included. I did not add additional vegetables for eating with the roast. Instead I strained out the carrots, onions and herbs, and turned the remaining liquid into a fantastic gravy. We poured this over the roast, and over some garlic roasted potatoes. Yum. I'm looking forward to using up the leftovers.

Mom's Pot Roast

Serves 4 to 6

1 3-pound chuck roast, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 TBS canola or safflower oil
1 large onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 fresh thyme sprigs
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
¼ cup port
¾ cup water
4 to 6 cups beef broth
Additional carrots and potatoes if desired

Preheat the oven to 325.
Season the roast generously on all sides with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a large dutch oven, or large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Add the roast and sear to a rich brown color, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add the onion, carrots, thyme, and rosemary to the pot. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are light brown and the onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Return the roast to the pan (lay directly on top of vegetables). Add the port and water, let cook for 1 minute. Add the beef broth until it nearly covers the roast (but not quite). Bring ot a boil over medium heat.
Cover with a lid or foil, and place in the oven to roast for 2 hours, 30 minutes. If you are going to add additional carrots and potatoes, this is the time to add them. Continue to cook another 40 to 60 minutes, or until the meat breaks up easily with a fork, and the vegetables are tender.
Transfer the roast to a shallow serving dish. Remove the herbs from the cooking liquid. Pour the vegetables and liquid over the roast and serve.
OR: Strain the vegetables and the herbs out of the liquid. Add a slurry of water and flour and cook to boiling over medium high heat. Add additional salt and pepper if desired. Serve gravy alongside roast.

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