Tuscan Pot Roast

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I’m not an avid cooking show watcher. Mostly because I don’t watch TV to speak of, but i think I’m also just picky. If a show’s host has an irritating voice, then there’s no way I can watch. Or listen.

Now, Rachael Ray (did you guess it?) is a little ball of fire who became successful because she worked hard, and is extremely passionate about food and cooking. Her parents owned restaurants, so she came by the cooking thing naturally. With all of her experience, she still considers herself a self-taught cook.

Ms. Ray supports many charities, loves dogs, and seems nice enough, but I just can’t watch her show.

Recently, a fellow blogger, Jennifer Guerrero, posted on Rachael’s new cookbook, called Rachael Ray 50 – Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savoy Life. It coincides with her turning 50.

As a side note, if you don’t want to keep finding out about cookbooks, don’t follow Jennifer’s blog, because she’s constantly posting on cookbooks that I must buy!

Rachel Ray 50 is a sweet book, in my humble opinion – part memoir, part recipes – written by a truly accomplished human being. There’s a lot of redundancy in Ms. Ray’s writing, but that part, isn’t why I bought the book. I wanted to know what recipes she chose for this particular book.

A funny part in RR’s writing is when she discusses a website created by her non-fans. #ihaterachaelray. Goodness, I had no idea that she had to endure such hatred. People can really be crazy. I just don’t like her voice! And, she talks over people a lot, which also bother me.

The reason I chose her Tuscan pot roast recipe to make is that I’ve never made a pot roast. Did you choke? I really have never ever. I’m not sure why, it’s probably because of seeing it at my college cafeteria or something. But it’s time!

Tuscan Pot Roast
Serves 6-8

6 pounds meaty chuck roast, well trimmed, about 3 – 3 1/2” thick, at room temperature (mine was 5 pounds)
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 onions, root end intact, cut into wedges
3 ribs celery with leafy tops, thick cut on the bias
2 parsnips, thick cut on the bias (I had to sub potatoes)
4 medium carrots, thick cut on the bias (aobut1 pound total)
2 bulbs garlic, end cut off to expose the cloves
4 generous sprigs of rosemary
2 large, fresh bay leaves
1 small bundle of fresh thyme, parsley, and carrot tops, tied with string
10-12 juniper berries
1/2 cup sun-dried tomato paste
1/2 bottle Italian red wine, such as Rossi di Montalcino
3 cups beef stock
Charred bread or roasted potato wedges with olive oil and rosemary, crushed garlic, and salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, heat the olive oil. Pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper.


Brown the meat on both sides and the edges and remove the meat to a platter.

Add the butter to the pot and melt it. When it foams, add the onions, celery, parsnips, carrots, garlic bulbs, rosemary, and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper

Add the herb bundle and juniper berries. Reduce the heat to medium and partially cover the pot. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the tomato paste, then add the wine and bring to a bubble. Scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot and add the beef.

Add stock just to come up to the meat’s edge. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven.

Roast for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender.

Remove the pot roast to a carving board and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Slice the meat against the grain. Remove and discard the bay leaves, herb bundle, garlic skins, and rosemary stems.

Serve the sliced meat on a platter or in shallow bowls with the vegetables alongside. I put everything on the same plate, and dabbed some of the jus on the meat.


Use the charred bread or roasted potatoes for mopping the sauce.

Okay, so it turns out I don’t like pot roast.

My husband liked it.

But, he suggested making a gravy for the pot roast, so I strained the vegetables from the really lovely tomatoey-wine-broth, and made a light gravy from it. And he said it was perfect. I haven’t tasted the meat with the gravy yet…

Next time I’ll just sous vide the chuck roast!

Roasted Pork Shoulder

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I recently read Nigella Lawson’s last cookbook, published in 2017, called At My Table.

It didn’t seem to grab me like her previous 87 books, or however many she’s churned out over the years, but then, after I was done, I realized how many recipes I bookmarked.

The recipes weren’t terribly fancy, but that’s not her style in the first place. And it seemed like half of the dishes were sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, like she’d been studying Ottolenghi’s cookbooks at the time of writing hers.

But again, I did bookmark a lot of recipes. And the first I wanted to make was her roasted pork shoulder. Why you may ask? It’s because when I cook with pork shoulder or butt, I’m usually making chile verde or pulled pork in the slow cooker. This pork shoulder is roasted in the oven.

To quote Ms. Lawson about her recipe: “As far as I’m concerned this is the easiest route to a lazy weekend feast.”

What I didn’t realize, was how challenging it would be to find a boneless, skin-on pork shoulder. I even called D’Artagnan and Lobel’s in New York City.

So I bought a de-boned pork shoulder (I even got resistance from the butcher for that request) and covered it on one wide with pork rind that I purchased from a different butcher.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder
With caramelized garlic and ginger

2 heads garlic
5.5 pounds boneless and skin-on pork shoulder
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon raw unfiltered apple cider

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut off the tops of the 2 heads of garlic, so that you can just see the cloves peeking through, and sit each scalped head of garlic, cut-side up, on a piece of foil large enough for you to be able to pull up the ends and scrunch them together to form a parcel.

Put both parcels in the hot oven and roast for 45 minutes, by which time the cloves will be soft and caramelized, then remove from the oven and leave to cool, still wrapped in their foil parcels – this could take up to 3 hours.

Then, 7 1/2 hours before you want to eat, take the pork out of the fridge for about an hour to get the chill off it, and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.


While you wait, unwrap the two parcels of garlic, and squeeze the bulbs to push the sticky caramelized cloves out into a bowl. Add the ginger, soy, and vinegar and mix together.

Sit the pork, skin-side up, and spread the garlic and ginger paste into the pocket where the bone was. If there’s any residue left in the bowl, you can smear this gently around the sides, but make sure you don’t let any get on the skin.

I cut some of the pork skin I purchased to fit the top of the shoulder. You can see it under the pork. I used a few ties of string to secure it once the paste was inside the pork.

Pour some freshly-boiled water into the bottom of a roasting pan, just to cover the base by about 1/4 inch. Flip over the pork so that the skin is on top and roast in the oven for 5 hours. I brushed a little peanut oil over the pork skin.


After these 5 hours, gently baste the sides of the pork with the juices that have collected in the pan, then leave to roast for another hour.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, and turn the oven up to 425 degrees F. Patiently spoon the juices into a wide-necked heatproof pitcher and return the pork to the hot oven for 30 minutes until the skin has turned crunchy.

Transfer the pork to a board. Spoon off the fat from top of the intense meaty juices in the pitcher; this should leave you with about 1 cup of the gingery and garlicky gravy. Check to see whether you need to reheat these juices and if you do, just warm them in a saucepan.


Remove the crisp skin and break into pieces. I cut a quite creative triangle for artistic plating.

Then carve, shred, or pull apart the meat, as wished. I sliced, and in this photo you can see the roasted garlic-ginger paste. There was a slight pinkishness to the roasted pork that didn’t show up in my other photos.

Transfer to a warmed dish and pour the meat juices over it, to serve.

The sauce is absolutely delicious. I wish there were more of it.

I was quite impressed with this slow roasted pork – tender and delicious. The next time, I won’t worry about skin, and the last 30 minutes at 425 degrees F won’t be necessary.


I also didn’t realize how much pork rind/skin shrinks, so I should have trimmed it much larger than I did, but it was still a fun experiment.