It seems that every week since late January, we get a huge snow storm or blizzard. Looking out at my back yard, where just a few months ago Teddy B. ran around and chewed on sticks atop a nice bed of grass, I see this:
My city, Worcester, MA, is now the snowiest city in the United States. That means we have more snow than Buffalo, Aspen, Alaska.
To occupy my time while I'm confined to the house, and feel warm and cozy on the inside, I've been cooking a big pot of something every week during the storm. Still feeling the need to stay away from chicken, I searched for a beef recipe and happened upon one called Company Pot Roast in Cooking Light Magazine. It had an ingredient that I've never used before--morel mushrooms (in dry form). I've always wondered what they were like. They are an interesting-looking mushroom. They sold them at my grocery store in 1/2 oz. packages. This is likely the brand that you will come across:
What did I think of them? Well, they looked interesting. But if they had a special flavor, it was lost. The other flavors were very strong. You could use them, they certainly look interesting. If you decide you'd rather, I think you could just go with cremini mushrooms, fresh ones, perhaps halved. If I were to go that route, I'd saute them and add them in the last 2 hours. Why? because I think if you added them in early, they'd shrink to the size of peppercorns.
I did think the morels looked cool, and I'd love to try them, fresh perhaps, in a recipe where their flavor would come through more.
Other than the morels, you might wonder about the sundried tomato paste. I keep thinking that I the brand of tomato paste that comes in the tube has it. But not at the store where I did my shopping. I found and used this:
Let's talk about the part of the recipe that I changed.
A lot of recipes online tend to have reviews and comments from the people who have tried them. They can be really helpful when you are deciding what to do about making the recipe. You can see where others felt the recipe felt short, and therefore fix it ahead of time. You can look at the interesting things others did to the recipe and decide if you want to try them too. For me, with this recipe, I liked the person who added in extra sundried tomato flavor by adding chopped, sundried tomatoes out of the bag. This is what I'm talking about, and yes, I did add them:
Something interesting came up in the comments. Quite a few of the people who responded said that they felt the recipe lacked something in the way of flavor. They did things like adding salt or bullion cubes. Other commentors felt that was foolish, and recommended that they learn to like less salt.
Me? As I've mentioned before, I tend to go easy on the salt. I used unsalted beef broth. I figured that the low-sodium soy sauce was going to be plenty of salt. And it was. Those people who added salt are nuts! In fact, if I were to make it again, I'd use less soy sauce and replace that liquid with more of the unsalted beef broth, or water.
Oh, and on the morning that I started making the roast, I realized their was a key ingredient that I'd forgotten to get--the potatoes. Whoops! It's a good thing I had parsnips in the refrigerator. Before I realized I had parsnips, my plan was to double the carrots, or maybe add squash, but the parsnips saved the day. Yay!
I had close company while I peeled and chopped the carrots and parsnips. My Teddy B. has learned that if he stands underneath me when I'm cooking, something is bound to drop into his territory. He kept making off with my dropped veggies, and it made me smile. He's so cute, my little thief.
I don't know red meat very well. In fact this was the first time I cooked a pot roast. It was more expensive than I imagined, and it went from a little too small, to way too big at the store. I got the one roast that was a little too small. I cut a big hunk of fat off of it too. It cooked down a lot. So I hope you learn from my mistake. Don't get a roast that isn't big enough.
One last thing: I didn't make the gravy. I just used the liquid in it's state. Nothing seemed to need moisture. But I'll leave the instructions for it. It probably would have been nice.
Winter Storm Pot Roast