Beef, Main Dishes, Recipes

Crock Pot Pot Roast

I’m not typically a beef lover. Ben loves nothing more than a good steak [or lemony kale pasta, go figure], so we’re not always good food matches. This is why we never share meals at restaurants  much to my chagrin… unless he’s being really nice to me, I suppose! 🙂 But sometimes I really do crave beef. A few weeks ago this was the case, so I decided to make a nice pot roast for Saturday night dinner while my parents were visiting. But as is typical when my parents are in town, my mom and I had been planning on doing a little shopping during the afternoon, so I decided to let the crock pot do the work for me.

Crock Pot  Pot Roast | The Pajama Chef

Though I had never made pot roast in the crock pot, I decided to give a popular yet simple Martha Stewart recipe a try. Though pretty basic, this pot roast is incredible! I let a three pound roast  simmer on low all day long with carrots, onions, pepper, salt, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine, and the result was a rich, tender, flavorful roast. I’m no expert in pot roasts, but I think the key to this one was the vinegary, salty, and sweet Worcestershire sauce. As a side note, did you know that Worcestershire sauce is used in cocktails? How bizarre! Anyway, if you’re looking for a no frills, classic, and simple pot roast, look no further! I served mine with some oven roast potatoes, and their crisp skin was the perfect pairing with the tender, soft, fall apart in your mouth beef and carrots. So, so good! Enjoy! 🙂

Crock Pot Pot Roast [adapted from Martha Stewart]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 8 medium carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 beef chuck roast [3 pounds], trimmed of excess fat [or can use a variety of beef roasts–I used a bottom round roast]
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

In a large crock pot, whisk together cornstarch with 2 tablespoons cold water  until smooth. Add carrots and onions, and season with salt and pepper. Place roast on top of vegetables, then season with additional pepper and salt if desired. Drizzle Worcestershire sauce on top, then pour wine and water around the roast [on top of vegetables if possible].

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until fully cooked [or on high for 6 hours].

Remove roast to cutting board, then shred roast or thinly slice against the grain. Serve roast with vegetables and pan juices.

Time: 8 hours, 15 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 8-10 servings.

Notes: The original recipe called for cooking on low for 10 hours or on high for 6. I cooked the roast on low for 8 hours and it was done, so just pay attention to your roast and if you do have cook it over [i.e. work schedule], it’s probably best to do so on low and to add a bit of extra water/wine. You can also strain the pan juices before serving, but I didn’t do this.

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Chicken, Main Dishes, Recipes, Reviews

Pollo alla Poggia Alloro {A Family Farm in Tuscany}

A couple months ago, I received an email from Ginny of Cooking With Chopin to participate in a blog tour for Sarah Fioroni’s brand new cookbook, A Family Farm In Tuscany. I immediately said yes because it was a free cookbook… filled with delicious, authentic Italian recipes. Oh how amazing!

Cover of A Family Farm in TuscanyThe cookbook cover is beautiful, no? Just wait til you get a copy for yourself and can flip through the pages. This cookbook is more than just recipes… it’s the true story of Sarah’s family farm in Tuscany, Fattoria Poggio Alloro, complete with pages and pages of text, images, and recipes of the farm, season by season. I want to make just about everything featured here!

The publisher describes it as: “In A Family Farm in Tuscany, Sarah Fioroni, chef, cooking instructor, sommelier, and manager of her family’s organic farm near historic San Gimignano, shares stories of family traditions and daily life at Fattoria Poggio Alloro. After moving to the farm in the 1950s to work as sharecroppers, the Fioronis later purchased the farm through their hard work and dedication to the land. They transformed the property into a model of integrated, sustainable agriculture that has been visited by government officials from all over the world and featured in numerous publications, including Organic Gardening magazine.” Is it weird to say I loved every page of this cookbook? I literally could not get enough of the Tuscan countryside.

Vista da Poggio Alloro | The Pajama Chef
Photo by Oriano Stefan

I loved getting to hear Sarah’s warmth, beauty, and love of her work really shined in her personal voice throughout the book, as well as in the FAQ section that came with the blogging publicity kit. I would LOVE to go visit the farm in person!!

Sarah Fioroni | The Pajama Chef
Photo by Dario Fusar, Organic Gardening

When did the idea of doing a book on Fattoria Poggio Alloro become something you thought you could do?

The idea of a book was something that I thought about a long time. The initial idea was just to write down the story of the Fioroni family as a gift to the family, especially the three brothers, my father Amico, and my uncles, Umberto and Bernardo. But after I began having cooking classes in the States and at the farm, many people asked me about a cookbook. I always had to explain that I did not have one. One day my good friend, Johnnie Weber, told me that I really should think seriously about the idea and took me to the cookbook section of a bookstore to show me how many wonderful cookbooks there were. So when I returned to the farm, I decided to pursue the dream and began to write the first notes in a note book.

What is your favorite time of year on the farm?

May is one of my favorite months, as you see nature change so fast, and after a couple of days of rain, everything becomes so green and beautiful. Amazing colored flowers grow everywhere and it can get pretty hot, but there is still a breeze. I have to admit that snow in the winter is something that I really love too. It is so magical for me.

It was hard to choose a recipe to feature in this blog post, so I enlisted Ben’s help.  Together, we decided that Sarah’s recipe for roasted chicken would be just the thing to make. In the colder months, it has become our tradition to make a roasted chicken on Sunday after we get home from church. Usually we just throw together any ‘ole ingredients like herbs, spices, citrus fruits, etc. to make our chicken flavorful. Not this time! This time, we used Sarah’s recipe which features savory sage and rosemary, salty pancetta, tangy garlic, as well as the deep richness that only a dry white wine can provide. I am never making a roasted chicken another way again!

Pollo alla Poggio Alloro | The Pajama ChefOkay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but this was just. So. Very. Good.

Pollo alla Poggio Alloro | The Pajama ChefSo moist [sorry], so flavorful, so tender. Don’t let the dark photos turn you away–I waited too long to put this chicken in the oven, and 7 o’clock sunsets aren’t friendly to photography. 😦

Pollo alla Poggio Alloro | The Pajama ChefIf you’ve never tried roasting your own chicken, do try it using this recipe and method. It is so worth it! I used to be scared of handling lots of raw poultry, but it gets easier each and every time [even though Ben still helps with the hard parts]. The rewards–like those first, hot, burn-your-fingers bits of crispy, salty skin–make it so incredible. This chicken was more aromatic and zesty than our ordinary way, thanks to the method of making a garlic paste using 8 cloves and putting seasoning under the skin of the chicken.

I simply cannot have enough words of praise for this recipe and this cookbook. I highly suggest you check it out today. I am so grateful for the chance to review it. Thanks again, Ginny!  I will certainly blog about some of the other recipes that are now on my “to make” list–an autumn risotto, yogurt cake, mushroom penne, and more!  Oh, if you wish, there’s a link-up below the recipe with links to other stops on the blogger book tour. 🙂

Pollo alla Poggia Alloro/Roasted Chicken Poggia Alloro [from A Family Farm in Tuscany: Recipes and Stories from Fattoria Poggio Alloro by Sarah Fioroni]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, about 5 pounds
  • 3 thin slices pancetta [I couldn’t find it so I used prosciutto]
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage
  • 8 large garlic cloves, ground to a paste using a mortar and pestle or chef’s knife
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine [I used a Chardonnay]
  • extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. [Don’t forget to sanitize your sink afterwards!] Place in a large baking pan [a 9×13 will work, I also have a ceramic roaster].

Place the pancetta, half the rosemary, 1 sprig sage, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic inside the chicken. Make six small slits in the skin of the chicken. Mince the remaining herbs and place them inside each slit, along with some salt and pepper. Gently massage herbs and seasoning into the chicken. Cover with the remaining garlic along with more salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pour wine in baking dish, then brush olive oil over chicken to lightly coat. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip chicken on breast and bake for another 40 minutes. Then flip chicken again to the back and bake for 30 minutes or until fully cooked. [Meat thermometer reading 170 degrees F/76 degrees C.] Remove from oven and rest for 7 minutes before carving.

Time: 3-4 hours.

Yield: 8 servings.

Check out other blogger’s takes on this cookbook here:

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Main Dishes, Pork, Recipes

Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

My new favorite way to eat pork! Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce. Yum.You have GOT to try this recipe. I don’t care if you never make any other recipe from my blog ever. If you make one thing, make these pork chops. They are just that good. Your life will be infinitely better. I promise. If you’re a vegetarian–no excuses either, because you can make just the sauce and be happy with your life, too. Just cook some tofu or beans up in a ‘lil olive oil in lieu of the pork chops and proceed as planned. And plan to love ’em.

This may be my new favorite way to eat pork, especially because it’s an easy company recipe. Though it looks complex, it’s real quite simple to make and it is so flavorful. Now, I’m not normally a red wine kinda gal, but this red wine sauce is sweet, the tang of the wine balanced out by the plump dried fruit.   The sauce was so good I was eating it by the spoonful! Served atop tender, juicy pork, this is a meal not to be missed. Enjoy!

Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Print

simplified from Martha Stewart Living, February 2004

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups assorted dried fruits [Martha suggests pitted prunes, apricots, and cherries; we used about 1 cup apricots + 1/2 cup orange flavored cranberries]

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine flour, pepper, and cinnamon. Set aside 2 tablespoons. On a plate or in a shallow baking dish, sprinkle mixture over pork chops, turning to coat. Brush off extra. Pour oil in a large skillet over medium heat.When oil is hot, add pork chops and brown until they are cooked through. Be sure to watch them so they don’t dry out or burn. Transfer pork chops to a [clean] plate or baking dish. Turn heat up to high, then add wine and cook to deglaze pan, constantly scraping up the brown bits. In a measuring cup, whisk together chicken broth with flour mixture, then pour into skillet. While constantly stirring, slowly add dried fruit to pan and cook until sauce has thickened, approximately 15 minutes. If desired, after about 12-13 minutes, add the pork chops back to the pan to warm up for a couple minutes before serving.

Question of the Day: Do you have a favorite “company” dinner?