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Trailer Trash Pot Roast

The tide has definitely started to turn, weather-wise, for us down here in the Sunshine State.  The temperatures this past week have actually dipped down into the 50’s a few times.  From April through October, I long for this respite from our oppressive heat and grueling humidity, however short-lived it may be.  I revel in the cool, crisp air and bright, clear skies!   This nippy weather also makes turning on the oven for long periods of time a lot more inviting.  It begs for some comfort food to be made.  I’m only too happy to oblige.

The first and only time that I ever saw this pot roast recipe presented was about twenty years ago on a local TV morning show in Mr. SGCC’s hometown in western Pennsylvania.  It was also the only time I was ever in western Pennsylvania.  Not that there is anything wrong with western Pennsylvania (there isn’t).   Just sayin’.

Anyway, I was sitting with my coffee in Mr. SGCC’s Aunt Annie’s cheery, little farmhouse kitchen and a cooking segment came on.  (Aunt Annie was such a gem!  So much so that she really deserves a whole post of her own.  Remind me to do this soon.)  I watched in horror as some local yokel dumped a packet of onion soup mix, a can of Coke and a bottle (yes, a whole bottle) of chili sauce on top of a big slab of beef and stuck it in the oven. He didn’t even mix the ingredients together first!  I was aghast, yet I couldn’t look away – like when you drive by an accident on the interstate.  You know you shouldn’t gawk, but you can’t help yourself. 

Through the magic of television, the dish was finished after the next commercial break and it was a sight to behold.  The meat looked so tender that it appeared to melt away after making contact with a fork.  And, those modest (and highly processed) blue collar ingredients had apparently reinvented themselves as a smooth, rich and zesty sauce.  I was impressed.  And, also a little ashamed of my initial “elitist foodie” reaction.

For the rest of our trip, I kept thinking about that pot roast and how absolutely wonderful it looked.  And, it was so simple!  After seeing it prepared one time, the recipe was already imprinted in my brain.   I knew that once I got back home, it was only a matter of time before I tried it for myself.

I did try it for myself – in the dead of August.  I couldn’t even wait for the weather to turn cool.  But, it was worth the frizzy hair and a little extra sweat.  That pot roast was amazing!   The meat just fell apart and melted in our mouths.  And the sauce was to die for.  It was deep and complex, with the whole spicy/salty/sweet thing going on.  Who’d have thunk it?  Certainly, not me.  Mr. SGCC was a very happy man!

Since then, I have made this pot roast recipe many, many times.  In fact, it is my favorite way to make pot roast.  I’ve tried other recipes – and they’re good – but I always come back to this one.  I’ve tweaked a few things along the way, like browning the meat first.  I also mix the sauce ingredients together before adding them to the meat.  And, I often add onions, carrots and potatoes as well.  Sometimes, I’ll even throw a few turnips , parsnips or rutabaga into the pot.  I’ve also tinkered with the sauce at times, adding a little Worcestershire, soy or hot sauce.  Once, I even added a splash of sriracha.    It’s all good.

The first thing you need to do is salt and pepper your meat.  Don’t be stingy!

Then, make up the braising liquid.  Just whisk together a can of Coke, a packet of onion soup mix and a bottle of chili sauce.

Next, you need to sear the meat a little to seal in the juices.  After that, pour in the braising liquid, cover and slide it in the oven.

While the pot roast is cooking, chop up some carrots, onions and any other veggies that you want to use.  You’ll add them in after an hour or so.  Then, go find something fun to do for a few hours.  Or, go clean out your closets.  It’s up to you, but I’m voting for the fun thing.

When you’re done, you will have the tenderest, succulent, most meltingly delicious hunk of beef that you ever tasted.

So, why do I call this dish Trailer Trash Pot Roast?  Well, it ain’t Bœuf Bourguignon, my friends.  Seriously though, it’s just a snarky little jab at my snobbish original reaction.    It’s meant to be tongue in cheek, so don’t get your panties all in a twist about it.    Still, with ingredients like packaged soup mix, bottled chili sauce and Coca Cola, the moniker seems fitting.  It got your attention, didn’t it?