Oct 20, 2010

Playing the Field

Lately I haven't been featuring many Cajun or Creole recipes.  I think the fig cake at the end of Sept. was the last one.

But the fact is when it comes to food, I like to play the field.  Don't most people?  As much as I love rice & gravy, I know I'd get sick to death of it if I had it all the time.

Even though my first love is Cajun & Creole food, I also have a monstrous and long-running desire for Mexican & Tex-Mex food.

This love affair started off ugly.  But I caved.

I was a tiny little girl out for lunch with my mom and aunt.  We were at some new Mexican restaurant my aunt wanted to try.  I'd like to assume that while waiting for the food to arrive, I happily and quietly sat still at the table, coloring away.  But this was a long time ago.  I don't think restaurants gave out coloring sheets back then.  I'm not even sure crayons had been invented yet.  And I was not known for being quiet in restaurants.  My mom likes to remind me of the time her, my dad, my godfather, and his wife drove aaaallll the way down to "that steakhouse" only to have to take turns bouncing me around the parking lot.  In my defense, I was an infant and steak just wasn't my thing.

So back to the Mexican restaurant...the food came to the table.  I picked up my fork and before digging in, exclaimed, "That's Italian!"  My aunt corrected me, "No it's not!  It's Mexican."  (Note: next time just go with it.  Don't be such a stickler about not lying to children.)  I scrunched up my nose, set my fork down, stuck out a pouty lip, and insisted, "Then I don't want none!"

A lot of problems here... my aunt was wrong.  We weren't about to eat Mexican food.  That chain food was about as Mexican as Ragu sauce is Italian.  And I had obvious double negative problems.  Brat problems too.

My aunt's bribe of fried ice cream got me to try the food.  Can't remember if I enjoyed my non-Italian meal, but I do remember that the fried ice cream at the end sealed the deal.  Mexican food was all right! 

While living in TX, I discovered the authentic stuff and my passion for this food genre exploded.  But I also like when American food is given a Tex-Mex spin to perk things up.  That's the case with this Picante Pot Roast.  Not authentic, but a nice Tex-Mex twist to the average pot roast.

Mise en place for Picante Pot Roast:
3# chuck roast, garlic, jalapenos, seasonings (whatever you like), vegetable oil, flour, 2 cans Ro-tel, beef broth or water, carrots, onion sliced into rings

Start by mistreating the roast.  Knife it like a B movie slasher.
Then stuff a piece of garlic and a piece of jalapeno in each slit.

Mix the seasonings together to make a rub.  I like to use salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and ground cumin.  It's all up to you though. 
You're the one who's eatin it.
I will say that while the cumin will stink up your house, browning it on the roast will not stink up the meal.
Rub the mixture into the roast on both sides.  Let this sit for 30 minutes.

While you wait, cut the carrots and slice the onion into rings.  No down time today, baby.
By the way, I don't peel the carrots.  They hold up better during the long cooking this way.

Also search for a pot with the following qualities:
large, oven-safe, lidded

Preheat oven to 300.  After letting the seasonings work on your roast for about 30 minutes, heat the oil over medium high to high.  Dredge the roast in flour, and when the oil is very hot, brown the roast on all sides.

Browning the roast this way is an extra step to making pot roast, but I really like what this step does.  It adds more intense flavor and a gives a nicer/darker color to the gravy.  Since discovering this method, I always use it no matter what kind of pot roast I'm making.

Turn off the heat, then add the ro-tel and about 3/4 c of broth.

Shove the carrots down into the liquid.  Then place the onion rings on top and around the roast.
Cover, place in oven, and bake for about 3 1/2-4 hours.
Hey, where's the beef?
Sorry--couldn't resist another old school slogan
Take a little peek after 3 hours to check the liquid level.  If there is too much liquid, uncover for the last 30 minutes to 1 hour of cooking.  In my experience this is often the case.  But if you find that you need more liquid, don't wait for me...do something about it!  Add more stock or water.

After 3 1/2-4 hours, the carrots should be tender and the roast falling apart.  You'll need a spoon to for serving the meat.

The Boy and The Husband both like this over rice.  I like it with a pile of mashed potatoes...with a hole in the middle for the gravy.

Linked to:
What's on the Menu Wednesday @ Dining With Debbie
Tip Day Thursday Carnival @ Around My Family Table

Picante Pot Roast
adapted from Ms. enPlace, original source ?

1 3 pound chuck roast
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1-2 jalapeños, halved (or quartered if large) and sliced
seasonings of your choice (salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, etc.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup flour
2 10 oz cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, do not drain
¾ to 1 cup beef stock, or water
6 carrots, quartered
1 ½ medium onions, sliced in rings

Cut slits in the roast and insert a piece of garlic and jalapeño in each. Rub roast with seasonings. Let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300º F.

Heat oil in a large oven-safe pot over medium high to high. When the oil is very hot, dredge roast in flour and brown in oil. Turn the roast to brown on all sides.

Turn off heat. Pour in tomatoes and about ¾ c of stock or water. Add carrots to the liquid. Place onions on and around the roast. Cover pot and bake for 3 ½-4 hours.

Check after 3 hours. Add more stock or water if dry. If there is too much liquid, uncover and bake for 30 minutes to 1 hr. Meat will be tender and falling apart when done.


  1. Looks delish!! I never thought to make a tex-mex version of pot roast but with the chilly days ahead, ( we live in Massachusetts) I have been stock piling warm comfy recipes like this!! Thanks for sharing!!

  2. That looks really good! I can't wait to give this a try. We love pot roast, but I've never made it this way before. Thanks

    Around My Family Table

  3. This is new to me too, but I would love it with a nice big pile of mashed potatoes. Yum! And thanks for not making me peel the carrots.

  4. I love the smell of cumin. Cubans use it a lot. Kinda reminds me of my grandma's house growing up.

  5. Just stopping by to say hi, I could smell your wonderful pot roast from the porch. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

  6. Michelle - It's a good thing you have that big cast iron dutch oven because that is one BIG pot roast! You definitely need the right pan for that baby.

    I'm a big fan of pot roast. You can pretty much put any spin on it and it's always good. Plus, pot roast is no slouch in the leftovers department. My husband and I will duke it out over pot roast leftovers. This recipe looks wonderful. I really like the idea of stuffing the roast with a sliver of garlic and a piece of jalapeno. In fact, it really floats my boat. I'll have to do that next time I make a roast.

  7. I just back from a Cajun cooking class. I'm so excited!! I'll blog about it tomorrow. We made 12 dishes...all good. All pretty much new to me. I made dirty Rice.
    And shrimp etof..how do you spell it? Well, you know what I mean.
    I just had to tell someone. so much fun tonight.

  8. OK, surely going to try this one. Hubby should like it. And I totally agree about the authentic Mexican food you can find in TX. We lived in Houston for 3 yrs and anytime we went out to eat, it was for 'real' Mexican, LOL.

  9. Thanks again for linking up to Tip Day Thursday at Around My Family Table. Feel free to link up anytime!



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