Thursday, January 2, 2014

Balsamic Roast Beef

     I have come to realize that checking the Weather Channel at night before going to bed in the months of December through February is probably a very wise idea.  If not, you end up waking up like I did...completely shocked not only by the fact that there is even snow, but the amount of snow that is on the ground and continuing to fall.  Have I mentioned yet that I am not a snow person-at all.  Yes it's pretty the first time it starts falling, but less than 24 hours later it's usually dirty and slushy and at the end of the day it's still cold-very cold.  I see snow and I'm ready to bunk down and not leave my house until it's all melted.  Of course, life and responsibilities usually prevents that from actually happening.  At some point I just have to go outside and struggle through the snow, dig out my car, scrape my windows and get my car to heat up as fast as possible so I can get from point A to point B. (I really really need to get a remote start again-those things are amazing!)  However, on this particular day I don't have to work, I don't have to be anywhere so bunking down is just what I'm going to do, while I silently scorn all those that "love this weather". 
   All this cold weather and hibernating inside did get me thinking about my favorite cold weather foods.  Literally the only good thing about the winter is the fall/winter foods (and Christmas, love Christmas)-slow cooked, warm, hearty meals.  It's when we pull the crock pot out and get to smell the deliciousness cooking all day long.  It's the joy of being able to prep, dump it all in the pot and just let it go and work it's food magic.  And one of my favorite recipes I started making this year is Balsamic Roast Beef.  In general I think I have gone a little balsamic vinegar crazy this year, I keep trying to put it in everything because I think it tastes so good.  From sautéing tomatoes in it to marinating meats, I find myself grabbing and adding a little...or a lot...of it to dishes as I'm making them.  So, when trying to come up with a different beef dish to do in the crock for sandwiches I thought, why not and this is what I came up with.

     I'm going to start out with a little step by step with some picture, and I'll post the full recipe for this here at the bottom.  Hope you all enjoy, and start experimenting with balsamic vinegar more-it doesn't just belong in a salad dressing!

This is just starting out, you need a 3-4 pound chuck roast.  I always go more toward 4 pounds, because the more the better-leftovers freeze.  I didn't trim this roast as much as I normally would, so I would recommend trimming the fat before putting the roast in the crock pot.  Add in your crushed red pepper flakes.
Garlic time!!  I love garlic, when I'm doing a crock pot recipe I don't mess with chopping the garlic.  I pop the individual cloves out of their skin using the knife and gently press the garlic with the side of the knife.  This loosens the skin and makes it so much easier to get the garlic out and keep it intact so you can use a microplane or cheese grater.
Because I use the grater, I usually up the amount of garlic needed by a clove or two just because you don't usually end up using the whole clove (at least I don't, because I would rather not grate my fingers-which I may or may not have done before), so your going to be short unless you add a clove or two to make up for it.
I've added almost everything else at this point, just need the beef stock and then I am ready to start cooking.  Next we just let it do it's thing and then it's time to pull the meat out.
It's already so juicy and tender it was falling apart as I was pulling it out to shred it.  I let it cool for a little bit before I started.  There are a number of ways to do this, you can use two forks and start pulling, you can use your hand and a fork and start pulling apart and if has cooled enough you can just use both hands in general.  They all work, just do what is easiest for you and what you have time for.
After you have shredded your meat, just add it back to the crock pot.
I usually crack the lid at this point and let it cook for at least another 30 minutes.  I want the liquid to reduce a little bit and for the meat to reabsorb some of those flavors.  After that, its ready to go.  It's good on a Hoagie sub, with the extra liquid for dipping, or a regular burger bun and smothering it with juice.  Or you can do what I did and just put it a bowl and eat it that way :) Any way is delish in my mind.

Balsamic Roast Beef
1 3-4 pounds boneless roast beef (chuck, trimmed of fat)
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey 
2 tsp. red pepper flakes
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1. Place all of you ingredients in crock pot together.  Cook 6-8 hours on low or 4 hours on high.  Remove chunks of meat from pot and shred with a fork.  Return meat to crock pot and cook on high for another hours.  When finished, can be served on hamburger bun or large hot dog bun, save juices from pot for dipping if you desire.