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December 3, 2008

Conversations With Pot Roast


If you were to talk to a pot roast, what kind of conversation would it be?


The answer to that question is that only an insane person would wonder what kind of conversation you would have with a pot roast. Everyone already knows that pot roasts possess highly proficient conversational skills. Anyone who professes to not know or makes claims to the contrary should be suspected of a most pernicious disloyalty to all things good.


The trick, of course, is knowing how to get the pot roast to talk, which in turn relies on knowing that not all pot roasts are made the same. There is, say, the bone-in chuck or the eye of round.


It is, in fact, the eye of round that most easily grasps our attention. While the other cuts of meat are named for a general location, the eye of round carries with it a whiff of the exotic, as if it is a place that you would visit on a most extraordinary adventure.


Perhaps you can hear it now. The king says to the lowly knave, “Go to the Eye of Round and fetch for me the Scepter of Mighty Wisdom.” The assembled court gasps in horror, for the Eye of Round is the subject of rumors.


Eye of round, cooked as a traditional pot roast, often turns out dry and stringy. It is an amiable conversation partner, but will clam up if you give it reason to not trust you.


What would do that? Cooking it as a traditional pot roast. That is, placing it in a big pot and cooking it over low heat for a long time. Who can blame it – who can claim that they would be talkative to someone who’d placed them in a slowly boiling pot of liquid?


Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees.


Slice the eye of round into thin sheets. Here, a forewarning. A raw eye of round will only grudgingly cede to the knife. Make sure your knife is sharpened, or else your efforts could be rejected – and ask yourself, would you really want to share with anyone that you were rejected by meat?


In a separate bowl, mix together some freshly chopped sage leaves, goat cheese, capers and chopped shiitake mushrooms. Add a healthy amount of ground black peppercorns and some salt.


Place a dollop of the formed mixture in the center of the meat sheets and fold the meat over. Make sure that you leave plenty of room, because it will contract some upon application of heat.


Turn on a burner to high heat, and when the bottom gets so hot that it would sear flesh from your hand, place the meat rolls in the pan. Keep them there for a short time, and flip. Brown the entire outside in this fashion to seal in juices.


Cook for about 20 minutes. You’ll know you’ve succeeded if, when pulling the pan from the oven, the meat packets say, “Why, hello there.”


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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