“Dee, may I trouble you for a second helping? I’ve never tasted such delicious pot roast. Do you use a secret blend of herbs and spices?” Roy asked grinning from ear to ear and handing his plate to Dee.
Dad, Mom, my brother, Randy who was about 8-years old, and I looked at each other in quiet disbelief as (Great) Aunt Dee, who was in her early 80s at the time, started sawing away at the leathery pot roast. It was the most unyielding piece of meat we’d ever tried to cut, it defined the term, “tough as a boiled boot.”
We’d spent a cheerful afternoon laughing and sharing family tales with Aunt Dee, and we’d accepted her gracious invitation to stay for a home-cooked pot roast dinner. Our family loved pot roast and each of us were silently licking our lips in eager anticipation of tender beef slices swimming in rich brown gravy surrounded with roasted potatoes and caramelized carrots.
It was approaching dinnertime when Aunt Dee leaned an ear in our direction. “I hear stomachs growling! If you’ll excuse me, I need to go take dinner out of the freezer,” she said walking toward the kitchen.
“Surely she meant take dinner out of the oven.” Mom whispered. However, her cozy bungalow was noticeably absent of the savory fragrance of roasting meat and vegetables.
Aunt Dee returned to the living room a short while later. “Do you folks mind if I invite a special friend over for dinner?” she asked blushing slightly, her clear blue eyes bashfully glancing downward.
We all nodded in accord, as we were eager to meet Aunt Dee’s admirer and hopeful suitor. “We’d love to meet your friend.” Dad said knowing it was, Roy, a proper gentleman who was ardently pursuing her hand in marriage.
Roy was an endearing man with a good sense of humor; he was a good family fit. Gales of laughter continued through dinner. It was time to call it a day and head for home.
Dad flashed Roy a good luck wink and a thumbs-up on our way out the door. As we were settling into the car, Randy asked, “Why did Roy ask for another piece of that leather?” Randy was young and still clueless about the peculiar things a man will do when he’s bitten by the love bug-even a man in advancing years.
“Maybe cupid has temporarily blinded both Aunt Dee and Roy to what’s considered a tender, flavorful pot roast!” Mom said chuckling.
“I remember seeing a roadside diner not too far from here! We’ll stop there for some dinner,” Dad said. We hadn’t driven very far when we saw a bright neon sign touting “Pearl’s Diner.”
Dad quickly pulled into the parking lot and within moments we were seated in a crinkly red vinyl booth. “Do you have a daily special?” Mom asked the tall red headed waitress who reminded me of Lucy Ricardo.
“I’ll have to ask the cook if we have any left, but yes, today’s special is pot roast with carrots, onions, and potatoes smothered in brown gravy.” She replied in a nasally twang snapping her gum in sync with each word. We all burst out laughing at the same time.
My brother had dropped his face into the menu and Mom was covering her mouth with one hand. “I’ll have the pot roast,” Dad managed to say, which sent us all into another round of chortling.
From what I recall we all opted for the pot roast dinner and “Pearl’s Diner” served us a pot roast dinner fit for kings, but then anything that didn’t have to be carved with a chain saw probably would have tasted like a gourmet’s delight.
It takes a lot of time and a little bit of love to make a tender and flavorful pot roast, although with Aunt Dee and Roy it was the other way around. Roy did win Aunt Dee’s heart, and they spent many happy years together.
Still today my family enjoys eating pot roast, but to me an “autumn” roast that’s been simmering on the stove or in the crock pot all day tastes better when the outdoor temperatures begin dropping and the leaves start falling.
I’d like to share with you two of my favorite pot roasts, both turn out equally delicious made in the oven, on top of the stove or in the crock pot.
Dilly of a Pot Roast
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 ½ pound beef pot roast
1 tablespoon shortening
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon dill weed (not seed)
5 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
5 carrots, peeled and quartered
½ teaspoon salt
1 lb. small zucchini squash, washed and quartered
4 wedges green cabbage, washed and cut into wedges
½ teaspoon salt
Mix together flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper; rub flour mixture into meat. Sear meat in hot shortening using a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add water and vinegar. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon dill weed over meat; turn meat and sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon dill weed.
Cover and simmer 1½ to 2 hours. Add potatoes and carrots; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer 40 minutes. Add zucchini and cabbage; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove meat and vegetables to a platter and keep warm while making Sour Cream Gravy.
Sour Cream Gravy
Measure meat broth, if necessary, add enough water to make 1 cup liquid. Mix 1 cup dairy sour cream, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1 teaspoon dill weed in skillet; gradually stir in meat broth. Heat just to boiling, stirring constantly.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.