Thursday, January 3, 2008

Roast Beef and Tomatoes, or Grama Roast

Every good cook has a certain few recipes that are easy stand-bys. Those particular dishes that your family knows you make well. A few well-chosen pieces that become part of family history.
One of the few meals my grandmother made while we were growing up was a Sunday roast beef and tomatoes--and it was unbelievably delicious. She taught me how to make it when I was a teenager, and it has been a feature at my table ever since.

We call it Grama Roast.

A perfect winter meal, making this roast is a time investment. You can't rush it. But for a day that's super-cold outside--like today here in Central New York--this meal brings just the right warmth into your home. And the aroma... oh, my... there are no words to adequately describe how dreamy this makes the house smell. You'll have to try it for yourself.

Roast Beef and Tomatoes, or Grama Roast
serves 4-6, depending on appetite

1 3-pound chuck roast
salt and pepper, to taste
2 medium onions, each peeled and cut into eighths
1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes, cut-up in their liquid
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 350*F.

Oil a baking pan or spray with canola spray. Season roast with salt and pepper on both sides. I use about 1/4 teaspoon salt and enough pepper to lightly coat on each side--but I tend to go easy on the salt. If you like things more seasoned you can of course use more. Put roast in prepared pan.

Sprinkle onions and potatoes over and around roast in pan. Pour tomatoes over the top. Settle everything in as desired now, because you shouldn't move things around after this point. Pour vinegar on top and cover pan with a double-thickness of foil. Stab foil with a knife or 2-prong fork in two places to vent.

Transfer pan to center of oven and cook at 350*F for 1 hour; reduce temperature to 275*F for another 3 hours, or until meat is fork-tender.

Serve hot. Delicious with mashed potatoes.

I've tried different vinegars, substituted wine, added potatoes and carrots, and added different herbs. I've even seared the meat before roasting. And all those variations make a perfectly delicious roast; however this is the original recipe that we love. I did throw in potatoes today because I was serving my ladies' group and wanted a one-dish meal.

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