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Feature Mon Jan 17 2011

What Winter's Made of

pr.jpgHere's the deal: it's cold. In fact it's really cold. On days when the high is 12 degrees, I need something that is going to revive my soul and restore my faith in the fact that those warmer days will come again. Having grown up the in the South for the majority of my adolescence, the past three years in New York and Chicago have taken some serious adjustments; the dry weather, the inability to do anything that resembles exercise and of course, the way I eat.

When I moved to Chicago in the fall of 2009, I thought, "this winter can't be that much worse than the bitter cold I experienced in New York." I mean, I had lived in Michigan until I was nine. I can handle this, right? Ha...Mother Nature, no one laughs more than you. For anyone who has spent winter anywhere outside of Chicago, I think we can agree - this is unlike most other winters.

During these tundra-like weeks from the end of December to the middle of February, food plays a huge role in my life, more so than in other seasons. I'm not going to the grocery store every night, I'm not running out to meet a friend for dinner and I'm not ordering pick up. You've seen the snow that flies at you sideways; I'm not going back out in that. Instead I'm stocking up on potatoes, onions, beets and other root veggies, so at the drop of a hat I can prepare something filling and delicious that will last at least a couple of days.

There are three kinds of dishes that I want to eat in the winter: soups, stews, and casseroles. My mother, a native Michigander, changed my life by passing down her infamous pot roast recipe. Simple, luscious and full of veggies, this is the true meaning of comfort. In each bite you gain back a little bit of your humanity and its bliss. The copious amount of wine in the recipe (and that you drink while cooking) definitely helps as well.

After some back and forth my dear mother, Audrey, has decided that it's only fair to share her recipe so that others may also share in one of the best winter comfort foods out there. Without further adieu here is the simplest recipe to help you get through these cold weeks!

pr1.jpgWhat cha need:
2-3 lb. roast, chuck preferably
1 large sweet onion sliced
1 small bunch of carrots, 6 or more depending on how many you like roughly cut about 1 inch
8-10 small potatoes
8-10 cremini mushrooms sliced in half or cubed
3/4 cup red wine 2 tbsp sour cream; mix well, again if you have a larger roast, use more
1-2 tsp Summer Savory
1-2 tsp Dill Weed
1/4 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper

How ya do it:
I want to preface this by saying the ingredients above are not set in stone. If you have big potatoes and not small ones, use that, just cube them. If you don't have carrots - don't panic. It's all about using what you have and making something delicious.

To start, get a large skillet going on medium heat. Add oil and once it's able to move easily across the pan, add sliced onions. Cook onions until tender about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

While the onions are cooking, mix your summer savory, dill and garlic powder together. Rub mixture over your roast and season with salt and pepper.

Next, sear the roast in the same pan as the onions with a little more oil, about 5 minutes on each side and a few on edge of roast.

In your crock-pot add a layer of onions, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. Place the seared meat on top, then layer again with remain vegetables.

Mix wine and sour cream and it will turn a light purple color, pour over roast, put lid on and cover. Do not open lid and look. Just leave it alone. (Those are Mom's exact words...)

Depending on the size of the roast, it will need to cook in the crock pot for 4-6 hours. Once meat is fork tender and able to easily be pulled apart, it's time to eat.

Serve with crusty bread. The meat is moist and tender. The veggies have absorbed all the wine and the meat's juices. It's just perfection on a cold night.

After you make this, call some friends, make them face the cold and come to you. Open another bottle of wine (you've undoubtedly used the first one by now) and plot your President's Day getaway to Mexico. This is what winter's made of: good wine, good friends and of course, good food.

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that_girl / January 17, 2011 8:41 AM

I love pot roast (essentially what this is) but make it in an even simpler way: no wine, no sour cream, just whatever seasoning I desire (adobo, red pepper, garlic, salt) and a little bit (1/2 c) of water. With or without the root veggies. Without, and with chopped onion added in the last half hour, it makes great taco filling.

Bear / January 18, 2011 10:13 AM

You know you have a good friend when you come home from an exotic, glamorous weekend in some other town in the Midwest to find a pot roast in your fridge. Just what the doctor ordered after traveling during these beautiful Midwestern winter months. In this time when all I want to do is hibernate and watch bad tv in my apartment, I could not have asked for a better meal to welcome me home. The homey, familiar flavors hit the spot. And as a bonus, the chef left the rest of the wine used to cook. She says it's easy to make - I'll just take her word and let her cook for me. I will say that you won't find a better meal (or friend!) this winter.

poindexter / January 18, 2011 10:55 AM

While I am not braving the Chicago cold but in fact enjoying a much milder Southern winter, I am still so excited to try out this recipe. What can be better than your mother's pot roast recipe (or in this case Audrey's)?! I will say I know Audrey to be a wise woman and I'm glad she decided to allow this recipe to be shared with the world. I can't wait to try it!

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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