Thursday, December 01, 2011

Dark Days Challenge Week 1: El Juice

I signed up for this year's Dark Days Challenge, hosted by (not so) Urban Hennery, a Washington State local food blog, that asks participants to cook one meal each week from November to April  featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients and write about it on your blog.   Since I already cook this way often and I preserve a lot of our food anyway, I'm looking forward to this effort.  I am going to state right now, for the record, that buying certified organic food is not a priority me.  Governmental licensing is expensive and small local farmers can't afford it.  So while I can't officially prove that the foods I will prepare for this challenge are "organic" they meet the spirit of this requirement.  "Local" is suggested to be defined as a 150 mile radius, which I will do but if I can't find something produced within a 150 mile radius of Ann Arbor, I'll make sure it's made in Michigan. 

For my first week,  I decided I wanted to clean out my freezer of the last of the beef I got from my fellow Girl Scout Leader Debbie, who raises the Belted Galloway cattle right across the street from my church.   This means every week, I see my future beef it grows from calf to steer.   This breed is great to look at - sort of like an Oreo cookie.    Anyway, butcher just called me today to find out how I want it cut, so it was time for the last pot roasts to be cooked.

I took them out of the freezer before work at about 5:30 am,  and added some carrots I bought from Seeley Farm, and some Meijer store brand onions that I am hoping are local because most of Michigan's storage onion production occurs on the west side of the state near Meijer's distribution center in Grand Rapids.   I'll try to make sure for my next attempt.

I seasoned it with rosemary I grew myself, and some kosher salt which may be local, but I am not sure.  Michigan has extensive salt mines.    Also used was home brew that my neighbor Larry made last fall.  It was a great effort for his first time brewing.    I popped the frozen beef in the oven at 5:30 am and programmed it to be done cooking at 6 pm when I hoped to be home that evening and headed off to the office, knowing the pot roast would thaw over the course of the day and the oven will fire up about 4 to start dinner.   I planned on serving the beef on baguettes my neighbors Suzanne and Lisa deliver to my door every Monday and Thursday.

I have to tell you the origin of the name of this recipe "El Juice".  It was the way my dad pronounced "au jus", and I guess everyone else in the world calls the dish "French Dip", but not my family.   It's roast beef on a baguette with a french onion soup inspired dip to dunk the sandwich in.   My teenagers love this!    I got home about 6  to wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen and Lisa and Suzanne's baguette was waiting.   I strained the cooking liquid, sliced the beef and the baguette and made sandwiches for everyone.  It was a great meal at the end of a very busy work day for me. 

El Juice

2 -3 small pot roasts
2 onions, sliced
5 carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch lengths
1 t. rosemary
kosher salt and pepper
1 bottle of your favorite local beer
2 cups water

In a large roaster. place meat and vegetables and season.  Cook at 325 for about 2 hours until tender.  Remove meat, strain broth.  Slice beef and serve on baguettes for dipping.  Serve roasted vegetables on the side. 


lookinout said...

If you had not explained 'au jus", I would have expected it to be a dinner serving a freshly roasted, juicy beef with the drippings, plus potato & veg. It's not a sandwich in my house, but it sounds delicious.

Jennifer said...

Looks and sounds tasty! A good French dip was one of the things I missed while living in the south. The bread most people served it with was too soft to stand up to all those tasty juices and half the sandwich would fall apart before you could eat it up. So glad to be back in a place where we know how to serve it right!