Pot Roast

I have been so lucky to have spent the last few months with a full schedule of travel and weekend trips. Spending time in Charleston and Asheville were excellent food experiences. I am so excited to try tons of new things and my brain is filled with ideas and inspirations. One thing that I have discovered is that the most simple dishes are often the most memorable. The perfect pot roast on a winter day will likely beat out any fancy or elaborate meal. Use fresh ingredients and perfect the simple preparation of the already wonderful vegetables or meat – that is my goal right now. I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! Ours was excellent. My lovely husband even churned out Pecan Pie bars all by himself! Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is super cold in Eastern NC. Our 70 degree days are few and far between during December. There is nothing better on a cold rainy day than coming home to the smells of roasted meat and vegetables.

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Use good red wine – whatever your budget is, use a wine you love. Make sure half the bottle of wine is drunk before your husband comes home for dinner. The quality of the wine, and all the ingredients you cook with are what make your food fabulous. I recently had a wonderful wine experience and learning opportunity at the Biltmore Mansion. If you are in Asheville, do not miss this somewhat touristy experience. The mansion itself is a fun and educational tour. The wines are actually really delicious and you get to taste ALL of them. The tasting of over 20 wines is included in your tour ticket, you should probably take uber to your Biltmore excursion.

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This recipe is composed of basic ingredients, most of which should already be on a weekly shopping list, and it will never disappoint you. This roast is also nice enough to serve for guests and can easily be prepared on a busy week day. With a little preparation, you could probably even get your husband to throw this in the oven while you take a nap on Sunday afternoon. Getting a good sear and caramelization on the outside of the roast is important – don’t skip this step. Make sure your pan is hot enough but does not burn. You may be shocked to know that this pot roast comes in at about 350 calories per serving – a nice relief from the high cal holiday eating.

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Pot Roast
1 tsp olive oil
3 lb boneless chuck roast
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
4 springs thyme
14 oz beef broth
1 bay leaf
4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled, chopped into 1 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high. Coat the chuck roast liberally with salt and freshly ground black pepper, pushing the spices into the meat. Sear the chuck roast in the pan, cook for about 5 minutes. Turning the roast to brown on all sides.

Remove the meat from the pan and add in the onion. Saute onion for 8 minutes. During the last 1 minute when the onion is getting soft and translucent, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Place the browned meat back in the pan. Pour in the red wine, add the thyme sprigs, beef broth, and bay leaf. Bring this to a simmer. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove roast form the oven and add the carrots and potatoes to the pan. Replace cover and bake for 1 hour, until vegetables are tender. Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaf from the pan. Use two forks to shred the meat and serve.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Steak Kabobs

We are getting some fabulous bell peppers and cherry tomatoes from the garden right now… I could not think of a better use for these beauties than kabobs! You can really put almost anything on kabobs! These have vidalia onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and steak. You could definitely use mushrooms, shrimp or chicken. Zucchini and yellow squash are also perfect kabob vegetables which I use all the time. See the pictures below of all vegetable kabobs that make a great side with steaks or burgers. Throw on some peaches and pineapple if you are feeling adventurous. Steak and chicken should be marinated in advance. But the main point is… Have fun and use what is in your garden or your fridge. Sirloin or tenderloin tips are usually cheaper and are already chopped for you. But if you cannot find them at your grocery store, use whatever steak cuts you prefer. See the pictures below for inspiration but use your favorite vegetables or whatever catches your eye at the farmer’s market. Use a vidalia onion dressing or balsamic vinaigrette glaze to add some zing to the vegetable kabobs. The brightly colored and super fresh summer vegetables are the highlight in these kabobs. So serve them with a complimentary Sauvignon Blanc. Starborough makes a super reasonably price Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The wine has crisp and refreshing citrus notes with hints of tropical fruit.

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Steak Kabobs

1 lb steak tips, or steak chopped into one inch pieces
3/4 cup Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe found here)
1 medium onion, quartered
3 medium bell peppers, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 Zucchini or yellow squash, sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bamboo or metal skewers

Place the steak pieces in a container with 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. If using bamboo skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to preparing kabobs.

Assemble the kabobs by alternating onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, squash and steak. Drizzle with remaining balsamic vinaigrette. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Prepare a medium heat fire in a charcoal or gas grill. The charcoal is ready when it is covered with ash and no longer burning duper hot. Cook the kabobs for 4 minutes, turn and cook for another 4-6 minutes. The steaks should be 125 degrees for medium rare.

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Grilled Burgers

It’s really hard to blog dinner recipes right now because I am mostly just throwing random food on the grill. I have mostly been making burgers, steaks, chicken, shrimp, and vegetables that are simply grilled over charcoal. I thought I would update my burger recipe because I have really refined this. There are a lot of fancy things out there with people grinding their own brisket and steak for burgers. One day I would like to go on that adventure. For now I like to use a ground beef with about 30% fat. You can buy leaner meats but your burgers will suffer. The extra fat is where all the flavor is kept. My favorite cheese for burgers right now is creamy havarti, it is to die for. And of course I always have extra bacon around which makes any burger even more insanely good. The other key to a great burger is the pickles. I prefer boars head dill sandwich pickles.

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You will also need a perfect bun (don’t worry, I am working on a recipe!) like a brioche or onion roll. Fresh Market has the most impressive brioche burger buns. But I cannot count the number of times we have eaten burgers on the 4 hour baguettes. When I am trying to be healthy and we have extra burgers, I eat them for lunch without buns. These burgers are so delicious they don’t even need bread. But in all honesty, I usually pity people who are trying to be low carb and eat a juicy burger without a perfectly toasted bun. Mostly because if you don’t buy buns, how can you have extra buns around for bun fights with your friends. I like to have light red wines with burgers. But there is nothing more perfect than a dry rosé before dinner on hot summer days. Your grill master will definitely appreciate it if you bring him a glass of Domaine Houchart Côtes de Provence. This is a very refreshing, light pink wine from France. Here is an updated recipe for how we are making burgers this summer.

Burgers, Summer 2014

1 pound 75% lean ground beef
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 dashes liquid smoke
1 tsp ground onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Italian style bread crumbs (you can substitute panko)
1 egg
4 brioche buns (plus extra to throw at your friends)
Optional but not really optional: lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, bacon, your favorite cheese, ketchup, mustard

Mix together the ground beef, Worcestershire, soy sauce, liquid smoke, and dry seasonings. Use your hands to mash everything together until it is all evenly incorporated. Mix in the bread crumbs. Add the egg last, making sure to mix it well into the ground beef.

Divide the meet into 4 similar sized balls (I like to use a kitchen scale and weigh out 4 oz portions). Form the patties by pushing out from the center and rotating in your hands to hold the meet tight together. You want the center to be a bit thinner than the outer edge of the patties.

Prepare your charcoal or gas grill to a medium heat fire. Cook the patties for 4-6 minutes per side. 135 degrees will be medium but you can cook them to your desired level of doneness. (This will also vary depending on grill temperatures.)

This is a Bubbly Kitchen original recipe.

Daube Provençal

We are having some cold days (as low as 55 degrees!) here in Eastern Carolina which means you will often be looking through enamel glasses into the bubbly kitchen’s cast iron pot. This is a traditional French beef stew made in a daubiere which serves a similar purpose to a dutch oven. It is usually made from inexpensive beef. The tougher cuts will be cooked in the oven for hours making them tender. The beef is braised in red wine with vegetables. This stew can be served by itself, with noodles, or over mashed potatoes. This is a fabulous version adapted from cooking light. You can throw these ingredients together in a quick 30 minutes, the stew then cooks in the oven for 2 1/2 hours. So on your next rainy day, I strongly encourage you to put this in the oven and open a bottle of red wine.

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As far as cooking with wine goes, I do believe in using good wine if you can afford to. For my Daube Provencal I used a Mondavi Napa Cabernet which is affordable and you wont mind finishing the bottle while the stew is in the oven, the recipe only requires 1 cup. You should pair this stew with an earthy red wine such as a Cabernet Franc. Cab Franc is a blending grape, often in Bordeaux. It is not usually the main grape in a wine, but when it is the forward grape, it is unique and wonderful. Girard makes a fabulous and affordable Cabernet Franc. This is a very spicy and rustic red wine. Many of the wineries in Napa produce pure Cab Francs as special, maybe single vineyard, wines. During my trip to Napa, Cab Franc was by far my husband and I’s favorite atypical wine.

Daube Provencal

2 tsp olive oil
10 garlic cloves, smashed
2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into one inch cubes
1 tsp salt (plus extra for meat)
1/2 tsp black pepper (plus extra for meat)
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
1/2 tbsp thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over low and add the garlic to the pan. Cook the garlic for 3-5 minutes or until it is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove the garlic and set aside. Sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper, be generous. Over medium-high heat, saute the beef for 5 minutes or until browned on all surfaces. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Scrape up all the brown bits stuck to the pain. Add in the garlic, beef, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper, carrots, onions, beef both, tomato paste, herbs, and tomatoes. Bring this to a boil.

Cover and bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Adapted from Cooking Light.