Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Revenge of the Pot Roast, Pt IV?

If you're dating a man whose childhood coincided with the 70's, you will probably not have much luck broaching the topic of the crock pot. The only kitchen gadget likely to produce more revulsion in a man of a certain age is the pressure cooker.

We both work insane hours. Which means that if we do manage to get to the grocery store and purchase all the items that add up to a complete meal, we are pretty much guaranteed that the meat or produce or dairy products - or all three - will have changed color and/or texture at least once before we have time to cook them. But we don't have the budget for constantly eating out, or the constitutions for incessant fast food.

My mother, whose current kitchen is smaller than one of my bathrooms, gifted me with her original avocado green crockpot. A lovely thought, but considering how rickety I've become over the decades under far lower temperatures, I can't bring myself to plug it in and leave the room.

So recently I asked Laughing Boy if he thought we should buy a crock pot. Wow. I hope I never see that particular expression on his face again. I should hastily point out that his Mom is a wonderful cook, and makes at least a half dozen recipes he vows he has never tasted better versions of than hers. But even he's got a couple of crock pot memories that turn him green just thinking of them.

I plowed ahead despite the obvious lack of enthusiasm and, after I found three crock pot cookbooks, I bought a nice big crimson crock pot. And promised Laughing Boy that, if anything I made in it was less than appetizing, we could throw the mess out and order pizza. No questions asked.

Not being stupid (no, you may not produce evidence to the contrary), I started with a recipe likely to be a winner. Wild mushroom soup. I ran the recipe by LB and he nodded reluctantly. Then said, almost nonchalantly. But not. "You know what that needs. Some meat."

Even without a crock pot, I make a pretty mean pot roast, followed closely by my beef stew. But hey, if he wasn't running from the room warding off the evil eye, I was willing to make Variations on a Pot Roast. And Pot Roast Redux, Pt III.

So far, the crock pot has turned out: four Pot Roast variations that, no matter what the recipe calls for - red wine and pearl onions or dry sherry and wild mushrooms - taste exactly like every other Pot Roast ever made; Two chicken dishes I don't think can ever be buried deep enough for his comfort; And one sausage dish saved by the last minute addition of madeira and the substitution of the turkey sausage with a kick a$$ gourmet smoked "real" sausage.

I'll keep trying, but I'm not sure how much more Pot Roast the world - or I - can take.


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