For the new year, my husband and I committed to getting up together in the mornings, 6 am specifically, so that we could stop the hectic cycle of being awakened by the kids at 7:30am, jumping out of bed in a state of frenzy, and beginning the day feeling simultaneously overwhelmed and exhausted.
Monday morning, we began. The alarm on Shawn’s phone sounded promptly at 6 am, and he slowly rolled over, with a groan, and turned it off. I laid there, careful not to move, hoping he presumed I hadn’t heard the alarm, shrugged his shoulders, and snuck back to sleep. Unfortunately, when my husband says he’s going to do something, he does it. So with a gentle voice he turned to me and said, “It’s 6 o’clock, babe.”
I moaned and squeezed my eyes tighter shut.
Making a new commitment and actually doing it are two completely different matters. In your mind it sounds delightful. I imagined myself hearing the alarm, eagerly sitting up, yawning and stretching, while singing a cheery show tune to the chirping birds outside my window; it’s all very Cinderella-esque.
The truth was that when the alarm sounded, I was exhausted. No birds chattered outside my window because it’s too damn cold, and my voice could barely muster an audible “I’m awake” for my husband, let alone carry a tune. It was hard.
But an hour and a half later, it was wonderful when our drowsy-eyed children stumbled into our bedroom one by one and I was completely ready for the onslaught. I’d had a whole 90 minutes of time to myself to read, meditate, pray, talk with my husband, journal, and shower. I got to start the day on my terms and it felt great.
The fruit of one of those early mornings this week was this recipe. By 8 am I had this easy, tasty dish working away in the crockpot, and dinner already crossed off my list of “to-do’s”. Nothing fancy, here; just a good ole’ fashioned pot roast, but with mashed potatoes on a chilly winter evening, it does the trick.
Mai’s Early Morning Pot Roast
1 tbsp. olive oil
1, 3-4 lb. shoulder roast
1 can beef broth
1 ½ tsp. herbes de provence
½ a large sweet onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves
3 carrot, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into thirds
2 celery, scrubbed and cut into thirds
1 ½ tsp sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add the roast and brown on all sides. Keep drippings from meat in frying pan, and place browned roast in a 4-quart crockpot. Pour broth over roast and sprinkle with herbs. Place carrots and celery on top of roast. Add onion and garlic to drippings in pan and sauté until they are starting to soften. Scrape onions and garlic on top of veggies. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cook on low for 10 hours. You could certainly drain the juice out of the dish at this point, mix it with a flour/butter roux, and make a gravy to go with the roast. I’m currently gluten-free so I passed on the gravy. I leave that decision up to you. However, I do insist that you serve this with mashed potatoes*. I simply don’t think there is any other legitimate side to accompany a pot roast.
Now I don’t know about your kids (if you have them), but mine aren’t fans of red meat. They’ll eat it if it’s disguised in a soup or chili of some sort, but straight-forward, in-your-face roast doesn’t fly with them. So last night when I made this pot roast, I made a batch of vegetarian chili alongside to ensure that everyone left the table with a full belly.
To my great surprise, they loved this roast. Excited shouts for second and third helpings started echoing from all corners of the dinner table, while I spent the majority of my mealtime shredding beef for my 2-year old who, between bites, kept yelling, “More meat!” Needless to say, I ate a cold meal…but with a warm heart—I love when my kids enjoy my cooking; don’t you?
*I don’t proclaim to be any sort of mashed potato expert, but I will give you my quick recipe here if you are a “mashed-potatoes-from-scratch-virgin”: Scrub, peel, and quarter 5 or 6 large potatoes. Boil potatoes till tender (will probably take about 20 minutes). Throw hot potatoes in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium speed for a minute. Then slowly add heavy cream until the potatoes reach your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the deed is done.