Years ago when I was still in high school, my best friend and I decided to make pork chops for my family. I don’t remember a thing about the whole event other than it happened and that the food we made was so bad that we ended up eating something else. Hockey pucks also come to mind but that might have been the biscuits we burned. Pork chops and biscuits – both were unquestionably overcooked that night.
I am fearful of meat. My food phobias are constantly fueled by the never-ending news reports of mad cow disease, salmonella outbreaks, and the overall horrific treatment of the animals most people desire to turn into food. So when Matt suggested we invite a friend and her family over for dinner and I cook them up a pot roast, I got anxious.
Most of the prep for Operation: Make Meat was carried out over texts and emails. Matt and I had briefly discussed the best time to thaw out the frozen hunk of beef, but that was pretty much the only time we actually verbally exchanged words over the matter. While the roast patiently did its thing in the refrigerator, Matt searched for a recipe online then promptly emailed it to me with instructions to call him before I started up the slow-cooker.
He didn’t answer. Here I was about to cook meat for the second time in my life and he was stuck in a meeting that was going to last almost another hour. But to have the roast ready by dinner time, I had to get this thing started right away and deal with this bloody hunk of slippery beef all by myself. It was rather disgusting but I figured it was decidedly safer than that time I had to break apart pieces of thawed chickens that had been sitting in the sun in order to feed some very hungry lions and tigers, when I wore the wrong gloves and raw chicken juices seeped through onto my hands and I sat around for 36 hours waiting to be taken over by salmonella. Yes, dealing with bloody beef was much safer than that.
So, now that I’ve shared that appetizing little bit, let’s cook.
Root Beer Pot Roast
- 1 thawed beef roast, 3-5 pounds
- 1 can of root beer
- 1 cup of water
- 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 bag of baby carrots
Place beef roast in the slow cooker first then add all of the other ingredients. Cook on low for 7 hours.
THAT’S IT. Phew.
I must say, I impressed even myself. Everyone gobbled it up. The kids happily ate the carrots and the meat was so delicious. I am not much of a meat eater so I only had a small amount, but this just gave our guests an opportunity to put more on their plates! Then they took some home in exchange for some of the angel food cake and strawberries they’d brought for dessert and Matt, Elle, and I ate it all up again the following night for dinner.
Still, I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable with cooking raw meats. I buy my shrimp frozen but previously cooked. I have never attempted to make a fish dinner unless it came from a box with baking instructions. And chicken? Oh, forget it! I made fajitas the other night with strips of, you guessed it, previously cooked chicken. But when I noticed the instructions highlighted the importance of cooking it to 165 degrees, I got scared and asked Matt if the chicken was safe.
He said, “I hope so. I just ate some straight out of the bag!”
Will I ever get to that point? Will I ever be able to eat a piece of meat without worrying about what it’s been through or what it could potentially put me through? I’m trying, and since we now have a slow-cooker recipe book and two hungry carnivores living in this house, I figure the best way to get there is to practice.