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Joni Woolf: Juicy chuck roast — Sunday dinner, Monday supper (two ways)

Cooler weather sends some of us to the kitchen to stir up body-and-soul-satisfying foods like soups and stews — or a hearty roast, prepared the way our mothers did it. We were not so much a beef-eating family as a pork and game eating one. Growing up in the country, we found pork almost always available — fresh or cured. If we wanted beef, we went into town, to a grocery store, to the butcher at the meat counter to place an order. The only beef I remember from childhood is country fried steak, and that was always a treat.
As I became a cook in my own home (and living in a city), I found I used various cuts of beef often. Often, too, I was looking for the least expensive cuts. So I discovered the simple chuck roast, and learned to cook a fairly good one, surrounded by potatoes and carrots. But it wasn’t until a friend at Calvary Episcopal served it at one of our covered dish luncheons several years ago, that I saw chuck roast taken to another level. She added coffee to the liquid in the pot, and cooked the meat at a low temperature — 300 degrees F. — and I began experimenting with what she told me. So here is how I cook the roast (and I change it from time to time), and how one might use any leftovers.

Chuck Roast
3- to 4-pound chuck roast
1 cup cold coffee
1 cup red wine
1 cup (or up to 1 can) beef broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 large onion, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Flour
In a Dutch oven, saute’ onion in the olive oil at medium temperature for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Dredge roast in flour, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Add roast to Dutch oven, and brown on both sides. Remove from heat. Add coffee, wine and broth, cover and cook at 300 degrees F. for four or five hours, until the roast is tender and juicy. Vegetables can be added mid-way the cooking, if desired. Four or five potatoes and several carrots, cut in large pieces may be placed around the sides of the roast, and cooked until tender. The sauce/gravy that results is quite good.
If there is meat left (and if vegetables were not added), a second or third meal may be made from the remaining roast.

Beef Stew
Left over beef roast, cut into bite-size pieces
Any gravy/sauce left from cooking the roast
1 can beef broth
1 can whole tomatoes, cut up
3 medium size potatoes, cut up
5 medium size carrots, cut up
1 large onion, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste (go easy — the roast was already seasoned)
Cook slowly over low heat for one hour, or until vegetables are tender. Serve with cornbread.

A different take on left-over beef is a soup with noodles.

Beef Noodle Soup
Left-over beef roast, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup mushrooms
4 scallions
3 carrots
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cans or 5 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons sherry
3 ounces thin egg noodles
1 cup shredded spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
In large skillet or Dutch oven, saute’ mushrooms, scallions and carrots in olive oil, approximately 5 minutes. Add garlic, and stir for one minute. Add the cut-up beef, beef stock, soy sauce and sherry. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Break up the noodles and add to the pan with the shredded spinach. Simmer until noodles are tender. This is a lighter meal than the Beef Stew. Both are delicious and can be a complete meal, perhaps with the addition of a green salad and/or bread.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net