EttB: She was an American Girl…who never ate a pot roast.

January 17, 2009 · 21 comments

in beef,dairy-free,eat to the beat


Can you believe I have never made a pot roast? Actually, let’s back up a minute – I have never even eaten a pot roast.  Unless you count any sort of covered meat, in which case I suppose I have had lamb pot roasts.

I grew up in a VERY Greek household. I lived with one grandparent or another full time until I was almost 11 years old.  As a result, I ate Greek food 100% of the time when we ate at home.   I grew up on lemon-oregano roasted chickens, spanakopita, roasted lamb, gemista (stuffed peppers/tomatoes), avgolemono.  There was nothing canned or boxed in our house.  I remember my maternal yiayia thinking that Campbell’s soup was pretty much the devil.  You know the first time I tried Spaghettios? I was a freshman in college. (By the way, it was also the last.)

But, of course, when I was young, it was really hard for me being SO Greek. I had to talk on the phone with any company or soliciter who called, translate television programs. I  had huge icons hanging in my bedroom that probably weirded my friends out when they came over. I could often not remember the English version of Greek words. I seriously did not know what a “comforter” was till I was like 12. I always called it a paploma. I really had no idea!

My mom was straight out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, with framed pictures of Greece all around our house, Greek flags in the living room, and somehow mispronouncing my teachers’ last names in an effort to make them sound Greek.  She didn’t let me do things that my friend’s parents would let them do. She always got upset that I wanted to be SO American and assumed I didn’t appreciate my Greek roots. Of course, that wasn’t true. Just like any kid, I wanted to be like all the other kids (and, also like most kids, I didn’t want to be like my mom).

Whenever I hear the song “American Girl” by Tom Petty it brings back memories of how I really wanted to just be “normal” which for me at the time meant American.  I wanted to be allowed to stay at a friend’s  house without my whole family meeting their whole family. I wanted a later curfew, like my friends had. I wanted pot roasts on Sunday nights. OK, that’s probably not really true. I could care less if we had a pot roast or not but I’ve always seen pot roasts as very “American” and I certainly don’t  mean that in a bad way. I think while I was eating roasted lamb with orzo on Sunday nights, my friends were eating pot roasts and vegetables.

So, it seemed fitting to tie a pot roast into the song “American Girl” for this edition of Eat to the Beat. There is still some time to submit your entries for this final edition of EttB so be sure to check out the rules.

Of course, I later came to find out that the song was really only loosely related to the way I had adapted it in my head. Apparently it’s about a woman jumping off a building to commit suicide. So, yeah, perhaps this song isn’t really as relatable to me as I first though, but I will always link it back to my feelings of being a (Greek-) American girl.

These days, of course, I embrace my Greek heritage much more than I did as a child. I’m really proud of who I am, where my family came from, and most important of all that we always ate really well. :-D

This pot roast turned out great, especially for being my first. It was so easy to throw together–but not so easy to resist as all the smells wafted from the kitchen for hours!  I made a  big  batch of beef barley soup with some of the leftovers and froze a little of it, too.

Pot Roast and Root Vegetables

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1 3-lb. chuck roast, tied
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 cup red wine
3 cups beef broth
1 rosemary sprig
1 large thyme sprig
1-2 bay leaves (I use Turkish)
1.5 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ pieces
1/2 lb. mushrooms, halved
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat, and add the olive oil. Sprinkle the roast liberally with salt and pepper. Add to the oil and sear on all sides. Remove the roast from the dutch oven. To the pot, add the onions, celery, and garlic until tender. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook it off for a minute or two until it browns.

Deglaze with the red wine, being sure to scrape  up all the browned bits. Reduce the wine slightly and then add the beef broth and salt and pepper to taste. Place the roast and any accumulated juices back into the dutch oven, along with the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover and then place in the oven. Cook for about 3 or 3.5 hours, turning the roast occasionally.

Add the potatoes, carrots, parsnips and mushrooms, stirring so they are covered in the cooking liquid. Cook an additional 30-45 minutes  until vegetables are soft. Remove pot roast and vegetables from dutch oven with tongs and a slotted spoon. Return the pot back to the burner, heat over high, and reduce the liquid to thicken. Season to taste and serve over the meat and vegetables.

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