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

print Printer Friendly Recipe

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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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Liz January 17, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Gorgeous photos, especially the dutch oven photo! I can’t believe you’d never had pot roast- yay for new things!

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Lindsey January 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

I am so jealous. My father is Greek, but we NEVER had Greek food (except feta and some desserts) partly because neither of my parents knew any recipes (my father never bothered to learn them growing up–he failed out of Greek school, haha) and partly because my siblings used to be really picky eaters (my brother still refuses to eat feta and lamb… it’s shameful).

We had pot roast all the time growing up, but honestly, I would have traded all the pot roasts in the world for a piece of spanikopita.

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Erin January 17, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I kept thinking of My Big Fat Greek Wedding as I was reading your post! Pot roast is actually a popular dish with my family. My mom said they had it every Sunday when she was growing up and we had it quite a bit when I was little. I haven’t made one myself yet, but this post is reminding me that I need to! It looks yummy!

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Ally January 17, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Good Job! I still can’t believe you never had pot roast. And you’re first one looks fantastic! I can just imagine how it tastes..mmmmm.

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Angie January 17, 2009 at 2:08 pm

The pot roast post! I’m glad it worked out and you’ve finally eaten an American staple. The waiting on it is the hardest part. :-)

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bensbaby116 January 17, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I have never made a pot roast either… and I can’t even use the reason of growing up in a house filled with another culture. I’ve just plain never made one, for no good reason. :) This looks like a great recipe! I bet your house smelled fantastic.

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joan nova January 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Your pot roast looks delicious BUT, more than that, I loved your account of ‘growing up Greek’. I particularly loved the line about visiting friends without your whole family meeting their whole family. Actually, though you didn’t think so at the time, you ate pretty damn good!

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Peter G January 17, 2009 at 6:16 pm

You’ve covered the issue of identity very well Elly. It was the same here for me. You’ve done great wonders with that pot roast though. Very comforting and hearty for that cold Chicago climate!

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Cate January 17, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I love the little glimpse into your childhood! I always wished I was LESS American growing up, because I thought my typical life was so boring. I was incredibly envious of my Lebanese friend because she was bilingual and always ate amazing food, while I ate boring American food and just spoke English.
The pot roast looks delicious!

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maria January 17, 2009 at 11:18 pm

Great story Elly! I wouldn’t trade growing up “Greek” for anything in the world–I look back on all the quirky aspects of my childhood, identical to your own, and smile. But New York is so very diverse that none of our “Greekness” ever really made us feel out of place. I kind of hope I can give my children a similar experience!
Your pot roast looks amazing–I can smell all that goodness all the way over here!

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Joanne January 18, 2009 at 8:06 am

My mom made pot roast a few times during my childhood, but for some reason it always came out really dry (my parents are really anal about meat being cooked through, often to extremes). Yours looks really juicy and delicious though! Living in a college dorm, its near impossible to cook things that take 3+ hours but as soon as I get my own kitchen, I can’t wait to cook slower cooking meats like this.

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Joelen January 18, 2009 at 11:11 am

Loved your story and your pot roast looks delicious! Nice job!

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Kate January 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm

I had no idea that’s what the song was about….I always loved it the same way you did! But I also thought we weren’t American because I didn’t know the words to Star Spangled Banner.

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Bellini Valli January 18, 2009 at 3:16 pm

My dad was vegetarian so we didn’t have pot roast either growing up. It is so delicious though I really enjoy this comforting dish!!

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JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen January 19, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Wow, Elly! That looks delicious. Great job on your first pot roast. I love your stories! So much fun. Being a second generation Italian American, I didn’t have to deal with that much of the old country things, but my mom sure did! Sometimes I wish I had more of a connection to that – like for exampling having grown up speaking Italian, but I guess the grass is always greener, huh?

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elra January 20, 2009 at 1:42 am

Hi Elly,
It’s my first time here, you sure have mouth watering recipes. I’ll be back from time to time for more of your delish dishes.

Ah..ha… I can understand why you never ate pot roast before. Your pot roast sounds really delicious.
Cheers,
Elra

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truenorth67 January 20, 2009 at 4:47 am

Elly, the dish (pot roast) still has all the look and feel of a Greek dish…love the pot roast and love that you and your family are blue & white all the way…Greeks!

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Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella January 20, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Great story behind your pot roast. I really enjoyed reading it :) As for the pot roast I’ve never had one either but yours looks SO inviting. It’s breakfast time here right now and all I can think of is wanting a big Pot Roast! hehe :P

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Renea January 20, 2009 at 8:55 pm

I am glad you finally made and ATE pot roast. It is one of my favorite comfort foods. I haven’t been around in the blogging world much lately but I’m loving the new blog, Elly.

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Courtney January 24, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Your pot roast looks so delicious! I think the only way I’ve ever had pot roast involved a pack of onion gravy as the only seasoning. I will definitely be giving this recipe a try.
I also wanted to let you know I’ve given you a blog award. I’m always inspired to try new things because of the recipes you post, and I really appreciate that. :) You can pick up the award on my blog. Thanks for all the great recipes!

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Leslie February 7, 2010 at 11:01 am

Pot roast looks great! I envy your background–we ate too many fish sticks and pot pies (ala swanson’s) growing up! Our first apt. as an adult was in Astoria NY–back then totally greek–the butcher shop (what’s that!?) was great but they were always grumpy b/c we didn’t speak greek. Best greek food was at the “social” clubs that seemed to think it was cute we actually went in not knowing it was “members” only…Love your blog!

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