Perfect Pot Roast… Жаркое!
Every once in a while a certain dish comes around that is so simple and so delicious that no alterations need be made. Usually these are the dishes that have been around for ages. The ones that grandmothers and mothers make, the ones that fill up our houses with incredible aromas and fill our hearts with memories. Think of my mama’s pot roast!
My mom and babushka made this dish for years. I could see them now, standing in our large eat-in kitchen in the old country. Babushka would peel the potatoes; mama would cut up the meat into gorgeous large chunks. Together they stood and bantered in Yiddish and sometimes in Romanian, if they did not want me or my brother to understand. A dinner would come together within an hour, while these two gossiped and told stories. I would frequently try and pull up a chair and peek my head into the simmering pots and pans on the stove. Mama would always tell me, “That’s it, Milachka! We are all done. Nothing to see here.” I was always just a tad too late for the action. That or mama didn’t want me diddling in her business.
This dish in particular conjures up all sorts of warm and cuddly feelings for me. My mom had it down to a science. And unfortunately I decided I could do better. How foolish of me to think that I could improve on my mama’s “zharkoye” or pot roast. I added wines, root veggies, herbs, cognac, etc. I seared, braised, sautéed and steamed. But it was never right. It was never how mama made it. So I gave up.
One day my dad asked me to make him this zharkoye like mama used to. So I naturally obliged. Mama’s original recipe only calls for five (!) ingredients and always had us mopping our plates clean with pieces of crusty bread. In fact, I could probably made my dad just a bowl of the leftover sauce and a piece of chunky bread, and he would be happy. There is a great deal of onions in this pot roast, and they really are one of the stars. The sweetness of the onions permeates every bit of the meat. And the potatoes themselves could be a meal for me. In fact, I usually double the potatoes, because I can eat them plainly without much else added. There is a certain magic that happens, when you combine all the simple ingredients in this dish. Each time I make it, I am reminded of mama and babushka behind the stove, and a little smile finds itself creeping up to my face.
3-4 pounds beef pot roast
4 onions, sliced
5-6 garlic cloves
2 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut into quarters or in halves, if they are small
coarse salt and black pepper for seasoning
coconut or avocado oil
- You want to cut the meat up into larger pieces. And by larger I mean they should be about the size of the palm of your hand. Make sure you season them REALLY well with good coarse salt and lots of black pepper. Mama loved black pepper in this dish. And I feel it just adds the perfect compliment to beef.
- Heat up a heavy bottomed pan with coconut or avocado oil (or any oil that has a high smoking point). Sear the beef on all sides until nice and deeply brown. Don’t crowd the pan and just cook them in one layer; you may have to do this in batches. Some of the fat will render off of the beef, and you can just pour it off before you add in your onions.
- Once this is searing, thinly slice your onions. I have a great demo here, if you need it. Also, peel about 5-6 cloves of garlic.
- Once everything is nicely browned, add in the onions and garlic into the meat and season with plenty of salt and black pepper. Toss and allow cooking for about 5 minutes.
- Peel and cut your Yukon gold potatoes in halves. I love these potatoes for this dish. It’s what mama always used, and I find they have the best texture and sweetness. They are just perfect!
- Add in your potatoes to the pot. Fill about ¾ of the way with water and allow cooking in the crockpot on low for 5-6 hours or until your meat is sexy and pulls apart tender. If you are doing this on the stovetop, just cover it up with a tightly fitting lid and cook for about 2 hours on low-medium heat. OR you can stick it into a 275-degree oven for 2 hours or until it pulls apart tender.
And I DO mean pulls apart tender.
Oh, and this is soooo VERY freezer friendly! So go ahead and make a double!
FOR A STEP-BY-STEP TUTORIAL MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT MILA’S WEBSITE GIRLANDTHEKITCHEN.COM