Meat and potatoes were a must in our house. My father was raised on just that, and lots of dessert. The first time my husband attended one of my family gatherings he was in heaven. Lots of ham, noodles, potatoes and every starch you can imagine dominated the menu. The dessert table was three times the size of the savory table and was loaded to the brim with everything you could ever wish for. There was rarely a vegetable in site except for the Green Beans (recipe coming soon…) my Mom would bring along. Dad would eat vegetables, that is, if they were cooked until limp, covered in melted butter and heavily salted.
Even though he nearly ruined any nutritional value, Dad loved to grow vegetables. Partly out of necessity (we grew most of what we ate and received government cheese and other assistance to get us by) and partly because he loved being outdoors. We planted an impressive garden every year; about twenty-five yards square when it was at its largest, and would have a friend come by with his field tractor to turn the soil at the beginning of the planting season. I loved that day and would be standing by with a bucket, my fishing pole and my bike – ready to grab some big juicy worms from the black, freshly turned dirt, and ride off to the creek down the road.
The bare garden turned the most beautiful shades of green, and soon mismatched canning jars were lined up like little soldiers along the kitchen floor. They would make a distinct popping noise when sealed properly, and it really was music to our ears after a long, hot day of canning.
With all the vegetables we had on hand and the half-a-cow we had in the freezer, a chuck roast landed on the table every week. Mom would load vegetables on top before cooking the meat to a moist, tender, savory finish. My sister and I would say our evening mealtime prayer in unison, memorized at a very young age. “Thank you God for bread and milk, and everything that’s good, Amen.” The food would be passed around in a semi-orderly fashion. My sister and I would scrap off the vegetables and proclaim “I don’t want any of that junk on top.” The name ‘Junk Meat’ was born, and is used in my house today. Now I eat the ‘Junk’, and with each bite wonder why I ever scraped it off. It brings back memories of that country garden and the smells of spring every time. Served with or without the Junk, I hope this makes it to your dinner table.
Junk Meat – Full Length
PrepTime: 15 Minutes
Total: 6 hours, 15 Minutes
2 1/2 to 3 lb chuck roast
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 to 4 celery stalks cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 pound bag baby carrots (or 4-5 carrots cut into 2 inch pieces)
1 medium white or yellow onion
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon parsley flakes
3-4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch cubes (reserve for later by placing in a bow,l cover with water, chill.)
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Heat olive oil in a heavy dutch oven or 4” deep pot on stove top over medium to high heat.
• Using tongs place Roast in pot and listen to it sear.
• Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder and Parsley. Lightly salt and pepper.
• Flip the Roast over, revealing the nicely seared underside. Sprinkle with remaining Garlic and Parsley. Salt and pepper this side, too.
• Once seared on both sides, turn the burner off.
• Pile on the Celery, Carrots, Onion and Tomatoes and mix them up a little.
• Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables, cover, and place in preheated oven.
• After one hour lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
• Cook at 300 degrees for another three to four hours (cooking time varies depending on thickness of roast).
• One hour before serving, add reserved potatoes by evenly distributing them around the edges of the pot, nestling them down in the juices. Salt the potatoes. If the pot seems dry (less than 1/8 inch liquid), add a little water.
• Cook until potatoes are tender when tested with a fork – about an hour.