Sometimes after a soul-searing day, a body needs comfort food. It’s the kind of food that makes you want to eat on the couch all curled up with your favorite blankie tucked safely around you.
I had a miserable night at work last night. There was a patient who’s life challenges are staggering. I had to focus intensely for a full 8 hours, struggling to keep my brain in nurse mode and not let the reality of the things I had to do for and to this patient overcome me. At the end of my shift, just before I went in to report off to the oncoming nurses, I think that I may have had a mini nervous break-down. I was scrubbing my hands and arms intensely when one of the CNAs asked me if I was okay. I turned to answer her and felt the tears start to well up.
“I can’t get clean,” I said. “I can’t get the day off of me. I keep scrubbing and scrubbing, but I am covered with urine and MRSA and that patient in 211 has no hope.”
The CNA was kind and soft spoken and told me about how the nurses from the previous night had had the same problem. The charge nurse got me a change of clothes and after report I went into the bathroom, stripped off my uniform, socks, and shoes and put them in a red, hazardous waste bag. In a moment of revulsion I tossed my stethoscope into the bag as well. I need that stethoscope. It was expensive. The bag is sitting here at home in the laundry room. At some point I am going to have to go in there and get out the stethoscope, clean it, and return it to my work bag…I think that maybe I need a new work bag.
You weren’t expecting that kind of a beginning to a cheerfully upbeat food blog, were you? I wasn’t expecting it either.
Food is such an integral part of our lives. We use it to convey what we are thinking, or feeling, or needing. Today, I want comfort food because I am thinking about the patient in room 211 and I am feeling distressed and I need to cook and eat something that is familiar and will give my insides a hug.
Pot Roast is one of those quintessential foods that speaks to the soul. It is a tie that binds and it embodies warmth and safety and family. So, I made pot roast today. It was amazingly homey and good.
- 3.5 lb chuck roast
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2-3 carrots per person, peeled and sliced (see instructions below)
- 1-2 potatoes per person, peeled and cut in half or in quarters depending on the size of the potato
- salt, pepper, granulated onion, granulated garlic
- olive oil
- 1 tablespoon beef stock base and 1 1/2 cups water or 1 can beef stock or broth or dissolve two bouillon cubes in 1 1/2 cups water
Preheat the oven to 275-degrees F. Prep the onions, garlic, carrots, and potatoes.
Put a dutch oven over a burner on your stove top. Pour a little olive oil in the bottom of the dutch oven and heat over medium high heat until hot. You’ll know its ready when the oil gets wavy patterns on it. If you will not be using a dutch oven for your pot roast, use a frying pan for this step.
While the dutch oven or frying pan and the oil are getting nice and hot, prepare the beef. Sprinkle one side of the beef with salt, pepper, granulated onion, and granulated garlic. Dredge the seasoned side of the beef in flour. Let the beef rest sitting in the flour while you prep the unseasoned side with the salt, pepper, granulated onion, and granulated garlic. Turn the beef over and dredge the newly seasoned side in the flour.
Put the beef in the now well heated dutch oven or frying pan to brown. There ought to be a fair amount of lovely sizzling going on right now. When the first side of the beef has browned, turn it over and brown the other side. Add a little more oil if you have to.
When the beef is browned, remove it from the pot and set aside on a platter. Turn the heat down to medium and put the onions and garlic in the dutch oven or frying pan and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened and some of them are slightly caramelized. Leave the onions and garlic in the dutch oven and place the roast on top of them. If you are using a roasting pan for this pot roast, place the onions and garlic in the bottom of the pan and put the roast on top of them.
Prepare the beef stock base by adding 1 tablespoon base to 1-1 1/2 cups of warm water. Mix to dissolve, then pour in pan around the roast. Put the carrots and potatoes on top of the roast and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Heat over medium heat to bring the liquid to a boil. Place the lid on the dutch oven and transfer it to the oven. Cook at 275-degrees for 3-3 1/2 hours. If you are using a baking/roasting pan, make sure that the lid fits securely. If your pan does not have a lid, cover with heavy aluminum foil and seal the edges tightly. For my old roasting pan, I had to seal it with foil and then put the lid on top of it, pressing the lid firmly against the foil.
Remove from oven and place on top of stove. Allow to sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes. Remove carrots and potatoes and put in serving bowls. Carefully remove roast and place on a platter. The beef should be so tender that it can be easily broken into chunks with a fork.
Make a gravy out of the liquid and well-cooked, diced onions remaining in the pan. The onions and bits of garlic will become a part of the gravy. For the gravy, I wanted more gravy than would have been available with just the left over cooking juices. So, I mixed 1 tablespoon of beef base with 2 cups of water, then added about 2 tablespoons of white flour while mixing quickly with a fork until smooth. I then continued with the following instructions.
Place the dutch oven on a stove burner set to medium heat. Bring the juices to a simmer. Pour in the beef base/water/flour mixture and stir until smooth. Bring ingredients back to a simmer, cooking and stirring until thickened. If too thick, add a little more water. If too thin, mix a little more flour in some water and add to the gravy in the pan to thicken. Pour into serving dish.
Break up the beef into serving sizes. Ring the dinner bell. Say grace and be sure to thank Heavenly Father for all of your many blessings.