Let’s say you have just moved into your new place, and you’ve spent something like 48 hours unpacking. By now, you’ve most likely had it with take-in, eat-out, and out-of-a-bag – a greasy bag – meals.
Your eyes are drooping, and your hands are chapped – possibly from dragging piles of ripped and flattened cardboard outside in a really earnest effort to recycle all your moving boxes, only to be foiled by freaking mother nature when 8 inches of snow fell right on the boxes, and now your moving day has left a huge soggy carbon footprint on the earth, but whatever.
Okay. Inside your new friend, the kitchen, awaits. You’re feeling ready to kick the place off with a meal – a true, hot, eat-at-the-table rib-sticking meal.
And look! Over there is the pantry of your dreams, and it’s got loads of storage like you’ve never had before. It’s filled with pretty, smooth-gliding pullout shelves that are really great and really….empty.
Wow. Really empty.
But lucky me – I’d optimistically dragged one scraggly onion, flour, sugar, cornmeal, and a few cans of stuff with me to our interim apartment (where we never cooked a thing) and then dragged the same stuff into the new house. This delightfully Laura Ingalls-like move appeared crazy at the time (keeping a scraggly onion?) but it became the makings of our first good meal at home. A new home.
Find your biggest pot.*
If you can figure out where the hell you put it.
Hunk of meat (here, boneless chuck roast), salt and pepper. You did bring salt and pepper, right?
A few cans of stewed or diced tomatoes (pictured here, the dragged cans)
Crank your stove up high – yes, you too, Mom, you, who are afraid to let the flames go past the sides – add a little oil and let those flames leap up high until the meat is seared brown on both sides.
Add the scraggly onion and if you’ve got them, a few scraggly carrots. New ones are fine, too.
Add the can or two of tomatoes right over the top. In one exquisite moment, a cloud of caramelized tomato, onion, carrot and beef will explode into the best aromatherapy you could ever hope for.
Carefully, but with feeling, inhale. Feel better already about this moving thing.
Although you will be reluctant to cover this beautiful sight, cover it tight and let it simmer for a good few hours, until it’s falling apart. Until the new house smells so warm and roasting and good that you believe you actually live here. It will smell so good in your kitchen that people outside will follow the scent and they will want to live there, too.
Simmer until it starts bubbling out and messing up your pristine new stovetop. When it’s really messy and also fork-tender, it’s done.
I found another pot and made polenta, because it’s delicious underneath the roast and its tomato-y juices. I did have cornmeal – and by now most of America knows that polenta is just just fancy and overpriced cooked cornmeal. And a darn good fast side dish, too.
Slice, shred, or rip the pot roast up and serve it over polenta with the roast juices and vegetables.
If some thoughtful friend has brought you a housewarming bottle of red wine, this would be an excellent time to pop it open. What box is the corkscrew in again?
This is comfort food. You’ll forget all about how much moving and unpacking sucks – until you go to find the dish scrubber. So enjoy it now.
* Just a note to say you could definitely do this in a slow-cooker or crockpot or some such thing if you wish. I only have the big blue pot, and it does great and even cleans up great. But slow cook away.