Good crowd, about 300 people.
My left leg is jumpy, tapping out a constant nameless rhythm on the theater floor. It's a variety show, 8 skits in the first act, 9 more in the second.
Stage ready. Lights come down. Show begins.
CrabCake2 doesn't come on until halfway through the second act. The show is full of his friends, more than a few of whom have been over to the house. But CC2's going solo tonight, he seems fine, a lot of nervous energy, but nothing you'd call stage fright.
Intermission. Cookies and juice.
He's been rehearsing. He's done this before. To him the whole event feels somewhat old hat.
Lights come down. He walks on stage. Lights come up. He plays.
I'm a wreck.
He has talent by the bucketful. Kids who couldn't care less about classical music listen in rapt silence. Five minutes thirty seconds later it's over. The audience erupts.
Afterwards parents and administrators come up and congratulate SSSal and me as if we had something to do with it. I'll admit it, reflected glory gives off a pleasant warmth.
Sometimes you just want a warm comforting meal. A meal that feels good just thinking about it. Company Pot Roast fits the bill. This is Ina Garten's version which seems to fall halfway between old fashioned pot roast and beef bourguignon. Enjoy...
Company Pot Roast
from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa
1 (4-5 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups carrots, chopped
2 cups yellow onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 cups leeks, white and light green parts, chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 cups dry red wine, preferably red burgundy
2 TBSP cognac or brandy
1 large (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
3 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
1 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
Pat the beef dry. Season the roast with 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper. Dredge the roast in flour.
In a large dutch oven or Le Creuset heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the roast and sear 4-5 minutes. Turn and sear the other side and the ends 4 minutes per side. Transfer the roast to a large plate.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the wine and cognac. Bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, bouillon cube, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Tie the thyme and rosemary together using kitchen string. Add the herbs to the pot.
Return the roast to the pot, bring to a boil and cover. Place into the oven and cook for 1 hour. After 1 hour turn down the oven temperature to 250 degrees and cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours.
After 2 1/2 hours, remove from the oven and transfer the roast to a platter and lightly cover with foil. Remove the herb bundle and discard. Using a stick blender roughly process the sauce to your desired consistency.
Return the dutch oven to the stove top and warm over medium heat. While the dutch oven is warming, blend 2 tablespoons of flour with the 1 tablespoon of room temperature butter, (NOTE: This is a thickening agent known as a Beurre Marnier).
Add the beurre marnier to the sauce and bring to a boil. boil for 2 minutes, the sauce will thicken.
Slice the roast and ladle on sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes to get every bit of the sauce.
OK this is a great recipe for a cold autumn day. So turn on the TV, watch some baseball or football or listen to classical music, just remember, you can do it, you can cook.