Grandma Esther's Thanksgiving Pot Roast Recipe
Grandma Esther's Special Holiday Treat
Despite the Normal Rockwell (oops -- is that a Freudian slip? I meant Norman Rockwell) paintings, many American families celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in alternative ways. Depending on their culture, their feast may include some variation on the classic turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Just as their day may not center around watching football on TV.
Who knew other families did Thanksgiving differently? I only discovered this by accident when I broke out of my very traditional New England Yankee cum Irish New York family mold at the ripe old age of 28. Imagine! I could have gone my whole life on a steady holiday diet (ha ha) of Tom turkey surrounded by mashed potatoes, candied yams and the ubiquitous green bean casserole.
Lucky for me, I didn't!
Thanksgiving as carnivore's paradise
The backstory on Grandma Esther's Thanksgiving Pot Roast Recipe
The first time I met my fiance's family he brought me home for Thanksgiving. We'll leave the culture shock of meeting this warm, boisterous New York/New Jersey Jewish clan for another hub. Today I'm here to talk about pot roast.
Pot roast was my mother-in-law's contribution to the festivities. Yes. Pot roast. She cooked it at home, sliced it, and schlepped (that's Jewish for carried) it wrapped in foil with the gravy in a separate container.
This was not in lieu of turkey, mind you. This was in addition to the monster turkey with all the trimmings. Every year some 22 +/- family members gathered around a table that engulfed the entire dining room, spilling into the hall. Every year these revelers were served two different meats: turkey and pot roast. If you like meat, this is your kind of dinner.
Now, it's been almost 25 years since my first Thanksgiving with that family, and 12 since my last east coast Thanksgiving. I know there's a good reason for the pot roast. I believe one of the cousins hates turkey. But it doesn't really matter.
Whatever the origination, pot roast has become as much a Thanksgiving tradition as anything else -- and that includes the bowls of cole slaw and pickles on the table. But again, I'm not going there today...
So easy to make and soooo delicious
Now once again, I must admit this is not the pot roast I grew up eating, with potatoes and carrots and brown gravy (so-called "Yankee Pot Roast"). Esther's pot roast is all beef, smothered in a sweet/sour red sauce guaranteed to make any starch on your plate (try it with mashed potatoes, egg noodles or polenta) thirsty for seconds!
If chicken soup is the Jewish penicillin, this is the Jewish Vicodin. I'm serious!
Here's how you can whip up your own batch of Grandma Esther's Pot Roast:
2 to 2.5 lbs beef. I use "eye round" because that is what Esther used
1 package of dried onion soup
1 cup of ketchup (or catsup if you prefer that spelling)
Equal parts water and red wine -- about 1 cup each
Garlic powder -- to taste (this is optional)
You should NOT need any salt because the soup is salty. But add some if you like.
I love pepper so I pepper the meat as I am browning it.
Brown the meat on all sides. You can do it under the broiler or (as I do) in the same Dutch oven/iron pot you cook it in.
Drain the grease from the pan.
Add onion soup, ketchup, water and wine.
Simmer covered for 2 to 3 hours until meat is tender. You could cook in the oven but Esther did hers on top of the stove so that is how I do mine.
Sauce may thicken so continue to add water (and/or wine) if you want.
When meat is tender, remove from pot.
Refrigerate meat and sauce separately.Overnight if you can-- that really helps the sauce flavors marry.
Slice the meat (it's much easier to slice cold), return to sauce, reheat and serve.
Nothe: I call it Grandma Esther's Pot Roast because both Esther and my ex-husband are now deceased. But I make it for my son as a way to honor his dad's side of the family.
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