Sunday wasn't the only day we got to enjoy a roast meal as Team Hawkes on Harvey St.
Mum would produce a pot roast every now and again for one of our mid- week dinners. Back then both the butcheries in Tanner St would have several cuts suitable for pot roasting and Mum, like most of the housewives in Grasmere, would have a pressure cooker in the pot cupboard which was ideal for the pot roast. If not, a good heavy-based pot or large casserole dish would have sufficed.
Like most of the mothers of Grasmere at the time, Mum was a stay-at-home mum and cooking was a daily activity rather than a daily chore - so a slow- cooked dish like a pot roast wasn't considered arduous as time simply wasn't an issue. Dad - again, like most of the dads in Grasmere - would be home at 5.40 and dinner was on the table at 6pm every night.
After 60-plus years Mum doesn't need to worry about cooking or baking or even any housework as the fine staff at Clare House do that for her.
On the downside, sadly there are no more peanut joys in the biscuit barrel or date square to grab with a cup of tea, no more of those fantastic pavlovas or rhubarb crumbles. But there are heaps of very happy memories of the "first in best fed" around the old Formica-topped dining table and we will forever have the great stories of toasting our toasty pies in the McKay heater while listening to Biggles on a Sunday evening.
Back to the pot roast. I guess the easiest way to explain a pot roast would be any large cut that is browned then slowly cooked in a tightly covered pot with a small amount of liquid.
Several cuts are suitable for pot roasting, with beef cuts the most popular.
What reminded me of great pot roasts was one of the beef cuts presented by a competitor in the lower South Island Young Butcher of the Year held in Dunedin recently.
I could think of nothing better than a delicious pot roast to make from the two superbly rolled pieces of brisket.
These days perhaps a slow cooker would be preferred to a pressure cooker, however the old traditional method is still a favourite of mine.
Suitable cuts for Pot Roasting from Beef Topside
TRADITIONAL POT ROAST
2 kilo piece of boned and rolled pot roast of beef (from any of the cuts suggested above. I have used rolled brisket)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups beef stock
6 Tbsp flour
Brown the beef on all sides in the olive oil using a heavy-based saucepan over a moderately high heat.
Once browned all over remove and replace with the onions and stir-fry in the dripping from the browning of the meat until they are golden brown.
Return the beef to the pot and sprinkle with the salt and pepper, add the red wine and beef stock and turn down to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer for 3 hours or until the meat is nice and tender, turning the meat occasionally and checking that it hasn't go too dry.
Remove the meat from the pot and cover loosely, resting it in a warm place while you make the gravy.
Skim all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the dripping and add 2 cups stock to the kettle, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom and the side.
Blend the third cup of stock with the flour and stir slowly into the kettle heating and stirring until it has thickened, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2-3 minutes, season if required.
To serve - slice the pot roast and serve with the gravy with really good rich creamy mashed potatoes and your favourite vegetables.
Using pressure cooker for Pot Roast
Brown the beef and onion in the open pressure cooker just as you have in the traditional method, adding the seasoning and half cup of water once the meat has been browned and the onions have sauteed.
Bring the pressure cooker to 10lb (4.5 kilograms) pressure and cook for 15 minutes per 500 grams.
Note: meat cooked at 10lb pressure will be more tender than meat cooked at 15lbs pressure.
Once you have reached the appropriate time, reduce the pressure, open the cooker, remove the meat and keep warm as you have with the traditional method.
Prepare the gravy in the open cooker using same method and serve.
Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Drive/Bainfield Rd roundabout.
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