Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: All gone to pot

From roast to work of art, right on your stove-top



As winter's cold fingers start to poke their boney way into our lives and comfort food seems like a good consolation, I highly recommend turning to pot.

Cooking a roast in a pot, that is. For at this very moment, I have a nice round roast of bison, maybe five or six pounds, simmering away downstairs in a nest of slow-cooked onions and garlic, peppers and tomatoes, thyme, basil, oregano, a little chardonnay left over from a dinner party, a little balsamic vinegar that might have taken 70 pounds of grapes to make a single cup, and some chipotle pepper puree that will give the whole dish a hint of smokiness reminiscent of burning leaves.

By the time it's done, maybe eight, 10 or even 12 hours from now, my rich, red-brown pot roast steeped in flavour will be a work of art, where the whole merges into something greater than the sum of its parts. Pot roast à la Glenda.

I'm a mighty fan of pot roasts, bison or otherwise. In fact, I love all those cheaper, tougher and - note - tastier cuts of meat that form the backbone of what variously gets called peasant food, country food or just plain food all over the world.

Pulled pork from Louisiana, machaca beef from Chihuahua, a nice little pot au feu from France all centre on long-simmering meats mingling with aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices.

In this case, the central attraction came from a bison ranch near Quesnel. Given bison meat is less fatty than beef and the round is about the toughest muscle on the beast, coming as it does from those earth-pounding hind legs, it really might be 12 hours before it's done.

And that's the beauty of pot roasts - they change your sense of time. Think slow food with leg shackles on. And that's okay, because right now my house is filling with delicious aromas. As for that warm pot on the stove, it stands as symbol for glowing hearth albeit with no embers to keep an eye on, no ashes to clean out.

So how do you create your own pot roast extravaganza? If you like avoiding greasy splatter clean-up, use a pot with high walls and a bottom big enough to allow about two inches of space all round your roast. If you don't have a high-walled pot, make do, but you will need a lid.

I invariably like my pot roast browned. Browning is easy if you use the plastic-bag shake-and-bake method of coating your meat with flour. For my six-pounder I used about a quarter cup of flour seasoned with salt, pepper and savory herbs, as mentioned above.

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