Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nostinkycheese Hotline, How May I Help You?

Let's follow up on two earlier posts:

1. The Pumpkin Cake was a hit! It sold out early and raised $16 for charity. I'm so honored.

Sweetie asked if it was risky to bring a non-chocolate item to a bake sale. It's a gamble; on the one hand, some amount of chocolate is always going to sell really well. However, something seasonal (lemon poundcake in the summer, gingerbread in December, etc.) is always going to have a market and will usually provide a little diversity on the bakesale table against all the chocolate. The Pumpkin Cake was a lovely taste of fall just as the weather is starting to get crisp.

Next time, though, I'm going to bring in a naked cake and ice it when I get there. Why didn't I learn that lesson from a pro, who did my wedding cake that way?

2. Pot roast is far more popular than I ever imagined. I'm glad the recipe has made it into so many kitchens.

To answer a question I've been asked twice so far - "boneless beef chuck pot roast" is not the ony cut that can be used.

What's a little confusing is that pot roast is not actually roasted - it's braised, meaning it's cooked in a simmering liquid. This technique is often used for tough meats, as it tenderizes them very well. And Pot Braise sounds silly and unappetizing in a way that Pot Roast doesn't. So if you're looking in your handy Better Homes & Gardens cookbook or on the "Beef, It's What's For Dinner" website, you would need to look for cuts of beef that respond well to braising, not roasting.

Can you use a very pricey cut of beef for a pot roast? There are some cuts that would work, but holy hell you'd pay literally 600% more than you had to and the finished product would not be 600% better. 'Nuff said.

Cuts for pot roast usually comes from the "chuck" - the shoulder area of the cow. Meats from this area tend to be fairly tough (and therefore inexpensive).

Chuck cuts for pot roast include:
* Boneless chuck roast (my go-to)
* Boneless top blade steak (also known as "flat iron")
* Boneles chuck pot roast
* Boneless arm pot roast
* Shoulder roast
* 7-bone pot roast (I've never used it and, frankly, from the diagram it looks like the meat is a pain to get to with all the bones)

Although also from the chuck, DO NOT ue country-style ribs or short ribs. They're totally not what you're going for in a pot roast.

Also try some of the "round" cuts, from the area of cow we'll politely call the rump. Some, but not all, cuts from the round braise well and make good pot roasts.

Round cuts for pot roasts include:
* Bottom round or bottom round roast (this cooks nicely, I've used it before)
* Boneless rump roast or Boneless round rump roast (it cooks well, but it has a thick layer of fat on the outside that needs to be cut off. You'll need to go up a smidge on the weight when you buy it since you'll throw some of it away)

Happy cooking - and keep asking questions!

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