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It’s Time to Get Back to Real Food

Published Jan 10, 2019 • Last Updated 11:50 am, January 08, 2019

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This week I will see my dining room table.

Of course, it is where it has always been, a polished oval, about 6 feet long, with six chairs and topped by a runner. But for the past couple of weeks, it has been covered with cookies I bought from the local public school cafeteria—one large platter, and three smaller ones.

My neighbor bought one of the smaller platters; I gave away the other two littles, and from the big platter, I parceled off cookies at dinner parties.

The rest I have nibbling on.

That must stop and the leftover cookies will go to the birds.

Wrapping paper, greeting cards, and thank you notes will be put away until next year.

The beautiful cape my daughter gave me will go into the hall closet, once I figure out how to put it on a hanger. Books are a problem. I have run out of bookshelf space, so I think a trip to the Book Barn is in order, if only I can merely give away books and not buy any more.

I baked a lot over the holidays, mostly sweet stuff. Two days ago I began making bread. The house smells wonderful, but it is time to think about real food, meals that can become three healthy meals. I made five small meatloaves, but froze them. I am in the mood for a nice braise with the chuck roast I am thawing. I will use my Instant Pot, but my recipe for this stew/braise is just fine in a Dutch oven. This one is wonderful.

Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at leeawhite@aol.com.

Jacques’ Pot Roast

Adapted from Julia and Jacques: Cooking at Home (Knopf, New York, 1999)

This is not your grandmother’s recipe, the one where she put the meat in the pot, added water, and roasted until it was tender.

Yield: 6 servings

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

1 3- to 4-pound boneless chuck steak, very lean, trimmed of fat

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups chopped onions

1 large tomato, cored and chopped (or a 14-ounce can of very

good canned tomatoes)

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 ½ cups white wine

½ cup water

1 ½ to 2 pounds turnips (or 8 to 10 parsnips), peeled, trimmed

and sliced

1 pound white onions or 8 to 10 shallots, peeled

1 pound carrots, diced into one-half pieces

1 ½ to two cups frozen baby peas

potato starch or corn starch and white wine or water for

thickening (optional)

fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Season roast on all sides with salt and black pepper. Place in large heavy cooktop/oven-proof casserole with heavy lid. Set casserole on high heat with oil. When oil is hot, lay roast and sear 3 minutes; turn onto other side and sear for several minutes, until entire piece in browned and meat juices have crusted, about 15 minutes. Pour out excess oil. Arrange onions and tomato pieces, bay leaves, and thyme sprigs around meat and pour in wine and water. Bring to a boil, cover casserole, and set in oven for 3 to 4 hours.

Remove casserole from oven. Place roast on another plate. Strain juice into a bowl, pressing juice and discarding cooked vegetables; place roast back in casserole and pour juices back. Arrange turnips or parsnips, onions or shallots, carrots, and peas around the roast and season with salt and pepper, if you like. Bring to a boil, cover, and place in oven for 1 to 1 ½ hours.

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