Grandma Joanne’s Pot Roast
Makes 6 servings
This recipe is where we got the idea for this cookbook. My mom first served it when I was probably seven or eight, and I couldn’t fathom how any other meal, anywhere on the earth, could be better than this. It has so many memories for me that I can’t help but be happy when it’s served.
For the last thirty years, Kathy has made this pot roast in the slow cooker on my birthday and when I walk in the house after it has been cooking all day, the aroma takes me back to that little house on Margaret Street in Russell, Kansas, when life was simple, my parents were alive, we were all together, and we had our whole lives ahead of us.
4- to 5-pound trimmed pot roast (chuck, rump, bottom round—all good)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, peeled, trimmed, and halved
6 carrots, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
2 whole celery stalks, ends trimmed, halved
1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
Two 10-ounce cans cream of mushroom soup
1 packet Lipton Onion Soup mix
- Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and dust it with the 1/4 cup flour. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil, and immediately add the roast. Brown it on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the roast to a slow cooker.
- Back in the hot skillet, add the onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add them to the cooker, nestling them around the beef.
- In a large bowl, combine the soup and Lipton soup packet. Fill an empty soup can with water and add it to the mixture. Mix well and pour over the roast.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until it’s fall-off-the-bone tender. (Cramped for time, we’ve done it on high in 4 hours, and it turns out terrific.)
- Remove the roast and vegetables to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Pour the cooking juices into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, up to 10 minutes or until nice and thick.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon flour with 2 tablespoons cold water. Mix until smooth, then whisk it into the juices in the saucepan. Stir until you have a thickened gravy.
- Serve the gravy in a gravy boat alongside the pot roast and vegetables as the crowning glory to the world’s greatest meat entrée for under five bucks a pound.
Ainsley’s Mom’s Chicken Divan
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Lay the chicken breasts skin side up in a single layer in a baking dish or Dutch oven that’s at least 4 inches high. Add 3 inches water to the dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover with foil, and bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven to cool slightly, but leave the oven on.
- Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, steam the broccoli florets in 2 inches water for 4 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, combine the soups, mayo, sour cream, Cheddar, and lemon juice. Mix until smooth.
- Butter a 9 x 11-inch baking dish. Lay the broccoli evenly in the dish.
- When the chicken has cooled a bit, remove from the baking dish and set the cooking liquid aside for the baked rice. Pull the meat from the bones (discard the skin and bones), shred the chicken, and lay it on the broccoli.
- Pour the soup mixture over the chicken and sprinkle the top with the Parmesan and paprika. Bake until bubbling and golden on top, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve over the baked rice.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a 4-quart baking dish, combine the rice, chicken broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bake until the rice is tender, 35 to 45 minutes.
- To make the sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and paste, give them a good stir, and let simmer as you make the meatballs.
- To make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the meat, eggs, bread crumbs, ¾ cup water, dried onion, dried garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, and Pecorino Romano and gently mix until smooth. Roll the mixture into 12 to 14 meatballs, each the size of a large egg.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, swirling to coat the pan. Add the meatballs and cook until evenly browned on the outside, gently turning them as needed.
- Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce and add the sausage links and basil leaves. Make sure everything is submerged in the sauce and bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook, occasionally giving a gentle stir, until the meatballs are cooked through (cut a meatball in half to be sure), 45 to 50 minutes.