The Food Maven Diary
Pot Roast with Dried Soup Greens
A few weeks ago on Food Talk, we were talking about cooking shortcuts. I admitted I use canned chicken broth, sometimes frozen spinach, and a couple of other harmless convenience products.
One listener called to tell us about an intriguing product and the recipe in which she uses it: Dehydrated (or freeze-dried) soup greens that she uses to flavor a pot-roasted brisket. The only problem, she said, was that the soup greens were not so easy to find. They are apparently sold in jars, usually stocked in the spice section of the supermarket.
Surprisingly, because I was unaware of this product, several other listeners called to say (admit) that they use it, too, and that you could get it here, there, it seems almost everywhere. I've never noticed the product, but then I wouldn't be looking for it.
It isn't the kind of thing my friend Sharon Lebewohl would be looking for either. Sharon is the owner of the Second Avenue Delicatessen and she uses only fresh soup greens in her deli's famous chicken soup. But after hearing the conversation on Food Talk, she noticed that International Foods, the Greek importer and retailer on Ninth Ave., carried the dried soup greens in bulk. She bought me a pound, which is way more than the half cup I needed for the pot roast. But as I said to her this morning, the chopped carrots, celery, onion, powdery herbs and who knows what, look very pretty in a glass jar on my shelf, where they are possibly to remain until they no longer are viable.
To get to the point, I made a roast with them this weekend. I did not use a brisket, as my listener does, because I couldn't find one easily and, in any case, I don't like the flat, so-called "first cut" brisket as much as I do a good thick piece of chuck. I had my butcher cut me a four-pound slab, which was a tiny better than two inches thick. I did not let him trim it closely. It had plenty of fat, which kept the whole roast moist during its nearly three-hour ordeal in the oven.
The meat was perfect – succulent, fork tender, as deeply beefy and delicious as could be, and flavored well by the fresh onion and dry vegetables. After nearly three hours in the oven, the vegetables did not taste as much like dehydrated vegetables as I thought they would, but, if you tasted closely, the gravy did, indeed, smack of dehydrated vegetable soup.
Would I make the recipe again? I have an enormous quantity of dehydrated soup greens in my pantry right now, and I hate to waste food. Still, dicing a carrot and a rib of celery, chopping some parsley. I can do that! Time will tell what happens to the soup greens.
Pot Roast with Dried Soup Greens
Serves about 6
1 4-pound (or larger) chuck steak or brisket
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
2 cups water
1/2 cup dehydrated soup greens
2 beef bouillon cubes
Pat the meat dry with a paper towel and salt it well.
In a roasting pan or Dutch oven in which the meat can fit flat, and that can be used on top of the stove, heat the oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Brown the meat well on both sides.
Remove the meat and add the diced onion. Cook the onion until tender, scraping up any browned areas of the pot, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
Add the water, soup greens and bouillon cubes. Crush the bouillon cubes into the liquid.
Return the meat to the pot.
Cover the roasting pan or pot (using aluminum foil if necessary), and place in a preheated 325-degree oven.
Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning the meat after the first 30 minutes, then after another hour, then after another hour. If necessary to keep moisture in the pot, add a little more water as needed. When the meat is fork tender, most of the liquid should be evaporated and you should have vegetables with just enough liquid to barely moisten the meat.