Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Dinner With Jonas

 As I'm writing this, it's early Saturday morning and this is the view I have out of my study window. Winter Storm Jonas showed up some time around 7:00 pm last night and so far he seems to be on his best behavior. Don't get me wrong- it is seriously cold out there, but since my power is still on, life is good. The Boys seem to be getting a bit of cabin fever, though -despite having pelted each other with snowballs for over an hour this morning. They keep circling me, asking, "Hey, what's for dinner?"  I've got the perfect thing in mind for a cold day like this- Italian Pot Roast Ragu. It's the kind of dinner that seriously warms your bones and falls squarely into the comfort food category. Bonus for the mama? It involves a crock pot.
Here's all you'll need to get the job done. The odd duck in this recipe is the frozen pot roast. Why does it have to be frozen, you ask? Because the first time I made this recipe, I was running late getting out of the door when I realized I'd forgotten to defrost the pot roast. Fingers crossed, I tossed it in frozen solid. And to my great delight, despite my worries, it turned out fabulous. This is a super recipe to have on hand if you need to be out of the house all day. It allows you to increase your cooking time by a couple of hours without drying out the pot roast. But enough talk, let's get this party started. As always, no need to grab a pencil. I've included the recipe at the end of this post. 
First step? Toss that frozen brick of meat into a crock pot.
Next, pour the entire jar of marinara sauce on top. Add the sliced onions.
Add the mushrooms and carrots. I usually use whole mushrooms in this recipe. That way the Red Headed Kid can easily pick them out and I get avoid any fungi drama. 
Add the bay leaves and sprinkle the dry basil evenly over all the vegetables. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 8 and a half hours. Once it's done, remove the pot roast from the crock pot and coarsely shred it- removing any bits of sinew or fat. Return the roast to the pot and stir gently until everything is combined and looks yummy.
Since this ragu is pretty hearty, you'll want to use a pasta that can hold up its end of the bargain. I used fettuccine, but pappardelle or tagliatelle would also make a great choice.
To say this pasta dish is yummy is a lot like calling Texas summers "warm" - a total understatement. Is it fancy-schmancy? Not really. Will your family love it and think you're a rock star? Definitely!
My Nanny used to say, "You know you've made a good meal when the table is quiet." Quiet is not exactly a word I'd use to describe dinnertime at my house. But on this night (with the exception of boy slurping sounds) you could've heard a pin drop. It was a lovely, peaceful meal.  And I owe it all to Jonas- him and my permafrosted pot roast.

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