My initiation into the world of cooking is somewhat of a mystery to me. It's unclear whether I was taught to cook at an early age so I could quickly take over the responsibility of weeknight family dinners from my working parents, or if I had a natural curiosity that drew me to cookbooks and a learn-by-doing method. Some of my happiest childhood memories revolve around my Granny's kitchen and her cooking. As much as I loved being with Granny in her kitchen, memories of food in the kitchen my childhood home are different and less abundant.
Certainly, I remember cooking and eating in my childhood home, but the memories relate more to the task of cooking for the sake of feeding the family rather than experiences that I'd remember fondly for the rest of my days. Times were different then, and children were expected to take on responsibility in the home at an early age. My job was cooking. I was turning out family meals by the age of 12.
A favorite food memory that took place in my home kitchen involved a pot roast cooked at an unexpected time. Not only was I given the task of cooking meals at 12, I was responsible for taking care of my two younger sisters after school until our parents arrived home from work. That meant coming home to an empty house. One day, I stormed through the door after school as usual. I was always in a rush to get home and head straight to the kitchen because I was starving by that time in the afternoon. I flung open the door and instead of a quiet, empty house, I smelled the most appetizing aroma of meat, garlic, and onions that stopped me dead in my tracks. I wasn't sure if I should stay or run for help. Surely, if someone broke into our house, they wouldn't stick around long enough to cook, I reckoned. In addition to the tantalizing aroma, I heard the television in the den. Either a bad guy cooked up a fine meal and enjoyed a television show or something else was going on. I voted for something else, hoping I was right.
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Timidly, I advanced toward the kitchen. There stood my mother at the stove doing what looked like cooking. She explained that one of my sisters got sick at school, and she had to pick her up. She decided to stop by the grocery store and get the fixins for a pot roast dinner. The circumstances of the surprise aroma and having my mother at home when I arrived created a warm and comfortable feeling, which transferred to my memory bank as a mighty fine food memory. From that day forward, pot roast became my favorite comfort food and remains so today.
For an outstanding pot roast, there are a few rules to follow:
- Choose a cut of beef that contains streaks of fat. The fat will keep the meat moist during the long cooking process. My preferred cut is chuck.
- Generously season the roast, It’s a big ol' hunk-o-meat that needs a lot of seasoning.
- Build on layers of flavor. Start with flavor and add flavor throughout the process.
- Braise the daylights out of the roast in flavorful liquid. Be sure to remove all the browned bits left from the seer. Add liquid to deglaze the pan to start building your flavorful braising liquid.
- You must make an open-faced roast beef sandwich with leftover roast and gravy.
Click here for Jackie Garvin's Old Fashioned Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy recipe.
WATCH: Amy Grant's Pot Roast Recipe
Buy a chuck roast and get started making the best Old-Fashioned Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy on the planet; maybe in the galaxy.
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Jackie Garvin is an Alabama born and raised, award-winning author and cook. She is the author of the popular Southern food blog, Syrup and Biscuits, and two Southern-inspired cookbooks: Biscuits and Sweet Potato Love. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and Basset Hound, both of whom are well fed.