Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How to Save a Burned Pot Roast

It happens to the best of us, and I'm certainly not one of the best.

You put on a pot roast. You go out to check for eggs. You realize you really need to water the garden. You're outside for over an hour without thinking about it. Oh, and you might also have forgotten to turn the heat down from browning the roast.

Or was it just me?

Anyho, you get back inside and instead of smelling tasty roasty smells, you smell burning. D'oh.

Now the roast and veggies are burned and you only have an hour before dinnertime. Definitely not enough time to start over (like there's even a "spare" roast to be had).

All is not lost, though. Here's what I had:

...and here's what I did:

First, I carefully lifted out all the veggies that were loose (not charred-stuck to the bottom and sides) and set them aside,
and then I worked the meat loose and put it in a new pot. (Do not try to scrape anything loose that is stuck in the char. Do not add liquid to the pot before removing the un-burned and salvageable pieces.)
I then got the charred pot a-soakin' in the sink. 

To the veggies, I added butter and fresh herbs, to offset the bitterness of the burned essence
and the dryness of being overcooked. 
In the fresh pot with the meat I added 2 cups of liquid (unsalted broth, white wine or beer, or water would work) and
about 1/4 cup olive oil. Once it was simmering I also added a couple new bay leaves, some garlic and onion powder,
and some cracked black pepper. I covered the pot and let it cook just below a boil right up until serving time.
This dinner was not wasted because I remembered the #1 rule of salvage: do not scrape the pot once something has burned. It is tempting to rush in and dump a cup of water over the hot, dry, crackling contents of the unwatched pot and start trying to work everything free, but don't! The more you can pick off the top without disturbing the charred bits, the less your final dish will hint at any trouble.

The downside to my story was time- picking apart my foible and starting over left me with a scant 45 minutes to finish the meat, and it ended up a little dry and a little tough. Another hour in the new pot, with the liquid refreshed every once-in-a-while, would have done wonders... but I'll have my chance to make that right tonight when I turn the leftovers into BBQ sandwiches!

See? Everyone has their moments, y'all!