Cooking the books: Beef Roast

After moving in with the in-laws (don’t worry, I’ll tackle that in blog form soon) my wife and I agreed that I would make one meal a week. We work opposite days, she has the normal Mon-Fri job that defines middle America, and I work Wed-Sun in the grey service industry. Our hours don’t match up and we are often ships in the night, but once a week on one of our days off we agreed to cook a meal for the both of us. Think of it as a stress reliever. Those in long term relationships will understand (“What do you want to eat?” ‘”I don’t know, whatev.” and on and on and on….).

My wife has a few medical issues involving food. She genuinely has a gluten allergy, not the-Hollywood-diet-makes-me-fat kind of allergy. The kind that leaves you in pain, bloated, with the squirty works. She also has a casein allergy which means milk is a no-go. And best of all, she has Hashimoto’s disease and arthritis and certain foods trigger inflammation in her bowels and hands and feet. We have built a routine around that so we can minimize the effects food have on her, but that means I can’t just get KFC and put it on a plate and say “home cooking!”.

So the challenge is to try and make things that sound fun or exciting without missing out on yummy or healthy foods. So naturally we invested in an Instant Pot. I will save the praise I would usually shower on this gadget for the Instagram and Twitter cult that have sprung up around this brand, and I’m not here to hock goods. Today I decided to make something right out of the Instant Pot cookbook: Beef Roast w/ Potatoes & Carrots with a simple sweet potato swap and ghee (clarified butter, no casein, common in Indian cuisine) instead of butter.

First stop, Whole Foods. Yes, I shop at the hipster grocery store. I kinda feel since Amazon bought them they are a little less ritzy. Quality hasn’t gone down or anything, just the brand association. Amazon, the retailer of fake memory cards and disposable electronics you still don’t need. I had my list, all the fixings, was in and out in about 1 hour. What can I say, I am a grocery store meanderer.

Now I am all set to make my wondrous meal. The cat corral just had to inspect the food before I started cooking, they are the ultimate taste makers. The recipe I used was from Instant Pot Recipe Booklet, 4th edition page 19. It can also be found at Hip Pressure Cooking. I didn’t realize that was the site name till now and a wave of embarrassment wafts over me.

Five minutes in and I already feel like this is going awry. As I am browning the roast, the Instant Pot becomes unplugged and I am wondering why the sizzle is getting quieter. I substituted chicken bone broth for chicken stock and realize that chicken stock has a ton of salt in it and the recipe calls for none. And it calls for 2-4lbs of beef roast and I have about 2 1/2lbs, so I turn up the cook time to 50 min based on the directions saying “a bit longer if the meat is thick.” How the hell am I supposed to tell how thick?

As the Instant Pot is doing its magic pressure cook witchcraft, I pop the wine and measure out the cup it asks for. “Wonder if its any good?” About two thirds way through cooking and prepping, I’m down to the last bit of the bottle and its affecting my foodie photography. I decide its a great time to crank up Toto’s Africa and repeat it several times in a row. Just can’t get enough introspection when I listen to its haunting melody.

During the last few minutes of prep, my family group text thread becomes active and I send a pic of the hunk of beef to the fam. My brother, a chef, says “Looks like you overcooked that meat, son.” For real, not lying. So I am feeling a bit pessimistic about the outcome.

By plating time, the carrots are almost baby food, the sweet potatoes have become mashed, and I decide to toss the meat back into the simmering juice to soften it up a bit. It helps, but ultimately doesn’t save it. My wife’s face is priceless as she absorbs that first flavorless piece of shoe leather.

Overall she gave it two cats out of five for effort. We have three cats. So it was worth one less then we own.

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